COLUMBUS, Ohio — Residents of Latitude Five25 spent Thursday packing up their belongings to permanently relocate after being asked to vacate the apartment property by Friday.
The city said the buildings at the Sawyer Boulevard apartment complex were found to be without potable water, heat and a working fire suppression system. Additionally, only one of the four elevators was working.
Dozens of residents evacuated on Sunday, spending the week at the Dodge Park Recreation Center, a temporary emergency shelter used by the American Red Cross. The remaining residents were asked to vacate the property by Friday at noon.
Anne Barrett has lived at the complex for a little more than a year.
"Every time it seems like they try to fix something, something else goes wrong and bad. The elevators never working. No heat. No hot water, you can't take a bath," she explained. "Even if they board up buildings, how are we going to get our belongings out?"
Just past the front door of Latitude Five25, on Thursday, you could hear Roger Parish playing his trumpet, hoping to help his neighbors get through a stressful week.
"It [music] takes me into...I don't know...an alternate world, mentally," Parish said.
Parish has lived at the complex for almost two years.
"I haven't seen one month where there wasn't something that happened...power went off...the water, you know, it's just the nature of the building," he said.
Parish's belongings include his three keyboards and his trumpet, and when asked what those items mean to him, he replied, "How important are wings on a bird? I mean, things are things, you know. But, you know, some things you need in order to do what you do," he said.
The city said it was determined the buildings in question were not safe, and multiple city departments evacuated both towers.
Joy Bivens with the Franklin County Board of Health and Human Services is tasked with helping residents figure out what's next.
"We're trying to assist with our partners that shelter board and others like getting our residents to a more stable living situation," Bivens said.
The city is working with Franklin County and other service providers to secure interim housing for displaced residents.
The Franklin County Commissioners met in an emergency session on Wednesday to allocate $750,000 for interim housing and support for continuing operations at Dodge Community Center.
Mayor Andrew Ginther is working with the Columbus City Council to allocate an additional $750,000 for these efforts.
In addition, the City Attorney’s Office is pursuing legal action to hold the building owners in contempt and to move the buildings into receivership and find a suitable buyer for the property.
Bivens said Franklin County is calling on the community to adopt families in need. If you can help, you're asked to call 614-233-2105.