Homeless tenants appeal to town board for help but get rejected

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – A group of Lockport tenants who were forced out of their homes into the rain last week first contacted Call 4 Action, and Wednesday night they took their fight for answers to the town board.

They want to know why a team of firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, and emergency crews kicked them out of their apartments on July 29, and then boarded the building up.

RELATED | The building inspector is refusing to tell residents or News 4 why he evicted residents and condemned the building

“They put our stuff out in the rain,” Taniel Staten told the meeting of the Lockport Town Board. Staten was one of several tenants from 6315 Robinson Road, who attended the meeting.

The town’s Chief Building Inspector Brian M. Belson condemned the building, but has not issued a “Notice of Violations” to the owner, listing the items that are in violation of building or housing codes, leaving the tenants, such as Jenny Falsetti, without a home for more than a week – and counting.

“It has been difficult to make arrangements with the building manager to get back in there to get something out of our apartment that we might need,” Falsetti told the board.

The tenants – men, women, and children, and people with special needs – were given 15 minutes to grab their belongings, like single father Lametrius Gibson, whose son suffered a seizure.

“We were outside in the rain, and he had one. Then I had to actually go back and forth with one of the firefighters, or the sheriffs, I can’t remember who it was, to go back in the building to get his medicine.”

Last Wednesday News 4 asked Belson how soon the tenants could move back in, but he only said there were other issues, besides a defective fire alarm.

“It is a lot of things, about a dozen things, and we want to get it taken care of, so people can move back in.”

That was last week.

News 4 has obtained what the town calls a notice of violations – two pages, 12 citations, but not one of those citations lists a violation. Each citation simple states a section of the Property Maintenance Code of New York, without specifying what is wrong.

Some tenants have been told they could be homeless for up to two months, and they are not waiting. Sheila Hutchinson has already found someplace else.

“I plan on leaving this building with all my belongings, and not having to deal with it ever again.”

The building’s owner, Jia Lin Rong, showed us the receipt that his fire alarm was repaired and inspected last week, but the town board refused to help the tenants get back home.

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