Home shut down and residents thrown out

HOUSTON Residents living there only pay about $350 a month. Most are on fixed incomes and have some serious health issues. But this week they were told to get out. On top of that, today the city turned off the power, making a bad situation even worse.

For two years now John Tone says he's lived with a crumbling roof in his bedroom and other serious problems. So while it's no surprise to him the building is being shut down, what he's upset about is the timing.

"After I pay him all that money, here he is, throwing everybody out," Tone said.

It started Tuesday when tenants received a notice saying they needed to move. The city had found numerous violations, including plumbing electrical and structural issues. What shocked residents was that they only were given four days to get out. Many like Roger Linart, who is disabled and on a fixed income, are left with no place to go.

"I guess I'll just have to, you know, make due," he said. "I'm going to do the best I can."

Tenant Roy Rowell said, "How cruel -- because these people have been your tenants. Some of these people have been here two and three years."

The owner's attorney tells Eyewitness News the city gave him no choice -- vacate the building or police would be called.

"They came out there, and they tagged the property," said attorney Martin McVey. "They said, 'This is a dangerous property, and we're shutting it down.'"

But city officials say that's not true. In fact, they say since July 25 the owner had the option to make the necessary repairs, but never got the permit.

"He met with the building officials and he voluntarily decided to vacate the property," said Doug Anders, Multi-Family Inspection Coordinator.

While both sides argue, no one refutes that it's the tenants who are left to suffer.

"I don't know. I guess Salvation Army, Star of Hope," Tone said. "I'm tired of finding another place."

The owner's attorney says he has refunded the tenants' rent for the month of August. But tenants say they haven't heard from the owner. The city is advising them to call 311 for help in finding another place to live.

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