Nearly 300 families to leave as New Haven complex empties

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Anyone that’s ever been to Union Station in New Haven, has probably seen the Church Street South housing complex. Nearly 300 units of concrete blocks, that will soon be completely empty.

It all started in April, with a code enforcement complaint of water damage and mold by one tenant. Fed up with the poor response from the Massachusetts-based property owners, Northland Investments, she enlisted the help of New Haven Legal Assistance.

“Conditions at Church Street South totally unacceptable,” said Amy Marx, a staff attorney at New Haven Legal Assistance. “The roof was in complete disrepair. It was objectively an clear statement that things were completely unacceptable in the building she lived.”

Soon after, dozens of families suffering similar conditions were displaced. They’re now forced to live in hotels after the homes their families knew were condemned.

“What we’re seeing is extraordinary clustering of very sick kids and other family members,” Marx said.

And there’s other dangers. Just Wednesday, Crystal Burgos infant son, Makai, suffered a nasty scrape on his face, when his foot got caught in a gaping hole on the solid concrete steps and he fell.

“His foot got stuck coming down the stairs with his sister and he rolled down rest of stairs,” Burgos said.

Dangers surround the young Burgos family. Another gaping hole exists on the second floor balcony railing, covered only with a piece of plywood and some zip ties.

“This is just waiting to fall,” Burgos said as she showed News 8 the makeshift repair job. “What if my son pushed this and falls? What am I supposed to do after that?”

Housing and Urban Development inspectors were out Thursday checking all apartments at the complex. Word came the day before that all tenets will be moved out. They’ll be given what’s called “pass through leases,” by the Federal Government, where they can find subsidized housing with different landlords.

“Basically, we’re living like we’re animals. And they don’t do anything. They don’t,” said Shanequa Hayes, who is soon moving to West Haven to get out of the complex she’s lived for 12 years. “We have to deal with it and it’s a place to live, so most people deal with it.”

Northland Investments is scheduled to speak with both City and federal officials Friday, to work on finding new locations for the displaced families. The process could take more than a year.

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