(LaPorte, IN) - An apartment house in LaPorte being condemned might be the first of other rental units ordered shut down by the city under an aggressive stance by the mayor against deplorable living conditions. “Enough is enough,” said mayor Tom Dermody on what he feels is a problem ignored for too long. A five-unit apartment house at 705 Maple Ave was condemned by the city Tuesday.
Jeff Batchelor, the city’s code enforcement director, said a recent inspection uncovered numerous electrical and plumbing violations including a sewer pipe in the basement held together by duct tape. He said other violations included severe cockroach infestation.
“Anything that you moved there was roaches behind everything,” he said. He said the structure of the building is in good shape “but there’s work to do.” Batchelor said the owner has 30 days to bring the property into compliance or the city could start the process of having it torn down.
Among the other properties not condemned but put on notice is Monroe Street Apartments containing 46 living units. “I’m still working with the owner to make the repairs. That’s a lot of people to disperse if it would come to that. Hopefully, it doesn’t,” Batchelor said.
He said those properties along with a privately owned house on Clear Lake Boulevard are also coming under more intense scrutiny for a history of behavior leading to numerous responses by police and other emergency personnel.
People living at chronic nuisance properties under city ordinance are subject to a minimum of $150 fine on each response. The city is working with the Center Township Trustee’s office to find housing for displaced residents.
Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski said her concern is adding to homelessness locally until she can find housing for people forced out especially if there’s a large wave.
Dermody said people in neglected housing deserve better and landlords must be held accountable before something tragic like a fire could happen. “People should not have to live in sub-human conditions. Some of these properties have been like this for many years. I hope the public understands,” Dermody said.