Disabled Tenant Screwed
|Debra Buell sorts through her belongings, getting ready for an unexpected move because her apartment has been condemned.|
But the message was repeated: the rest of the water had to be removed and a professional cleaner had to fix the mold problem.
"Monday when everyone left," said Debra, "I think they [Building Inspector and Fire Department ] thought they got through to her [the landlady], they thought she would probably get someone in that day or the next day."
The landlady had mentioned to the building inspector that she was getting ready to take a trip. Debra stayed in the damaged building Monday night, assuming the landlady wouldn't leave until Wednesday or Thursday after looking into the needed repairs.
The next day the city building inspector paid another visit, asking Debra if anything had been done to fix the problem. No, she said, adding she had left a phone message for the landlady but hadn't heard back.
A lot of other people were waiting to hear back from the landlady: representatives from HUD (Housing and Urban Development), North Country Center for Independence, Clinton County Social Services, and North Country Legal Services.
The silence indicated that motivation had to be created to render a response. The landlady did stir when she received a message that one avenue to resolve the problem might be for the city to take over her uninhabitable property through eminent domain.
Debra heard the landlady had contacted the HUD office. The landlady told HUD she had done everything she was required to do legally. (Morally? Don't ask me that one.) The landlady revealed she had left town early Tuesday for a two week vacation.
I would like to speak to the landlady but until she returns I don't understand – the landlady's side of the story, that is.
On Tuesday two city building inspectors declared the apartment was uninhabitable. They told Debra she couldn't be in there after 7 PM, no overnight stays. She can't even cook there.
Since then Debra has been scrambling to find a new home, a wheelchair accessible apartment, while dealing the System's red tape. Clinton County Social Services did find her a place to stay – in Keeseville, the boondocks (my term), 15 miles outside of Plattsburgh with very limited public bus service.
Earlier in the week Debra said she told Social Services that with a three-day holiday weekend approaching (Memorial Day) they should find her a local hotel room ASAP. That advice was ignored. Ergo, she was displaced in Keeseville, not placed in the Plattsburgh.
Since then Debra had to impose on a relative for a place to stay until suitable temporary or permanent housing is found. As she observed in the subject heading of a recent email: "Homelessness...it's not pretty, especially in a wheelchair."
So how's your holiday weekend going?