By Leticia Juarez
SAN BERNARDINO, California (KABC) — Hundreds of people living in a squalid San Bernardino dormitory building are scrambling to find new housing after learning the building will be shut down.
The city is trying to find all of them more suitable places to live.
Residents say the building – an illegally converted dormitory – is plagued by rats and roaches, as well as mold, electrical issues and other hazards.
Code enforcement has deemed the building unsafe despite numerous attempts and fines by the city of San Bernardino to get the owner to make repairs. Now it’s being shut down and residents have just a few weeks to find new accommodations.
Residents are used to paying low rental rates and say it will be difficult to find another place that is so cheap.
Rent on most units is between $600 and $700 a month, with no deposit or down payment required. That’s all the 280 residents can afford.
“I was homeless for four years before I moved in here, and I refuse to go back to being homeless,” said building resident Angelina Trammell-Krone.
Lisa Torres Mendivil shares her tiny room with two of her grown sons. The only light come from the bathroom since she says the owner never fixed the main light.
She says she and most of her fellow residents don’t make enough income to afford most other apartments.
“The rent is really high (in other buildings),” she says. “So this is the only place for a lot of us.”
Jeff Kraus, a spokesman for San Bernardino, says the city is working to find new housing for residents.
“The city is working with anybody and everybody we can to find alternative housing, to find temporary housing, and transitional housing, to get people into permanent, longer-term and and safer conditions,” Kraus said.
Kraus says the building was never permitted as apartments and accuses the owner of taking advantage of residents.
The building is owned by Fox Property Holdings LLC, which lists the owner as Ji Li.
When Eyewitness News tried to reach Li to ask about the property, his resident manager said that Li tried to make repairs but blamed residents for the deteriorating conditions.
“We were living here for the past two and a half years, perfect,” said manager Jeff Young. “There were no complaints.”
He acknowledged it will be difficult to find new housing for the residents.
“Oh, it is a problem but where are you going to put these people? None of them have credit.”
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