City to help with hotel rooms, plans to turn off utilities to property
The few remaining tenants of Town Plaza apartments in need of housing will be provided hotel rooms for up to a week, a city of Roswell manager has said.
After about 12 days of discussions with the owner and his representatives, the city has decided to give rooms in local hotels to the remaining tenants of the apartment complex who cannot find alternative housing.
The action follows the determination by the city that the property at West McGaffey Street and South Sunset Avenue presented safety and health concerns due to water and sewer leaks, damaged roofs and other structural problems.
“We will stay in contact with the owner as we work through various issues,” Community Development Manager Bill Morris said in an email. “We will be formally pulling or turning off all remaining utilities Wednesday morning.”
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Phone and email messages left for the owner of the property, Lawrence F. Edmisten III, and his family real estate business in California, were not responded to by press time.
The on-site manager, John Ray, said, “All I know, the owners are trying to work it out. Now whether they want to keep it or not, I don’t know.” He chose not to make any other public comment.
Morris said five tenants had contacted the city by noon Tuesday about the relocation offer and city officials believed up to 10 people might need to be housed temporarily.
On Jan. 7, city employees posted notices on apartment doors indicating that the property had been determined to be unsafe and the owners had until Jan. 17 to contact city officials or face possible condemnation proceedings.
Morris said at that time, city staff had responded to a report of water flowing from the upstairs of one of the units and then noted many problems.
“Upon inspection, it became very evident that there were a large number of serious violations that posed potential threats to the health and safety of the residents,” he said in a Jan. 8 email. “These violations include multiple water and sewer leaks, roof leaks, exposed electrical connections, evidence of vacant unsecured units having been used by vagrants and structural deterioration.”
City documents indicate that tenants had been making complaints to the city and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office since at least 2015. Complaints made with the Attorney General listed open holes in ceilings, walls and floors; mold; exposed wiring; broken or missing windows and sliding glass doors; cockroach infestations; lack of smoke alarms; and no hot water.
Wendy Rogers was one of the people moving Tuesday afternoon. After five months at the apartment complex and dealing with no hot water for weeks at a time, she said she was told 10 days ago by city employees to be out Tuesday and will accept the city’s offer to stay at a hotel because she has been unable to find somewhere else to live.
A local Eastern Regional Housing Authority manager had said that federal Section 8 housing vouchers could be available — and for the time being, they are. But there are concerns that the partial federal government shutdown, if it continues, could affect future availability. It was recommended that those interested in the vouchers visit with Eastern Regional Housing Authority staff to explore the option.
Amber Hall is also moving to the hotel and said she had just paid $1,000 in rent two days before being informed of the requirement to move out. She said she has lived at the apartments since May and had problems with the lack of hot water and a hole in the wall between the kitchen and the bathroom.
“Not anything crazy, just, you know, kind of bad,” she said.
Both Hall and Rogers said they notified management several times about the need for repairs and were told repeatedly that the problems would be fixed “next week.”
The apartment complex consists of nine apartment buildings and 72 units, according to Ray. Chaves County records indicate that Edmisten was the person listed on property tax receipts starting in 2010.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.