Six-Building Eviction

By: Beth Shayne
By: Beth Shayne

"It's been a nightmare, a nightmare," tenant Rita Silvas says of her time at Simken Gem in Lansing.

For her and 18 apartments full of her neighbors, red tags are just the exclamation point on an eviction tenants call sudden and unfair.

"We got no heads up or nothing,,we out just to be out," says Rodley Owens, who lives at Orchard Court Apartments across town.

The stories differ, but all tenants at Orchard Court Apartments and the 3 red-tagged buildings on Simken say they got less than a month's notice from a landlord who was bad news from the start.

They describe buildings that aren't up to code with broken windows and broken pipes, and now that utilities are cut off, Lansing's code compliance officers agree.

"The code complaince department is doing its job protecting the public by securing buildings that are substandard," says officer Craig Whitford, as they nail boards up on doors and windows. They were contacted by the landlord, he explains, who says they've evicted the tenants and utilities are shut off as the final phase in that eviction.

That action forces those who live there out in a real way and many have no place to go.

2nd ward councilwoman Sandy Allen says the Orchard Court Apartments were known as havens for criminals. "Prostitution, drugs, you name it," Allen says. She says good people with tight incomes are being forced out because of criminals and a landlord that allowed them to run his apartments into the ground.

She hopes this situation sends a message to other landlords that they must maintain their properties.

Silvas, and others just hope this landlord gets justice for what he's done. "I think they should be put in jail. What they're done is just not right, not right," Silvas says.

The landlord did not return our calls Friday night. The property manager declined further comment, but did say many of the residents were behind on their rent.

The Red Cross is offering a place to stay for those who need it. They will be open from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm on Saturday, Sept. 23 and Sunday, Sept. 24.


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