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Belle Glade mayor vows to help residents of rooming house

A June 14, 2022 photo of a Belle Glade rooming house where residents are being evicted (1).jpg
Posted at 4:31 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 17:14:42-04

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — The mayor of Belle Glade responded Tuesday to squalid conditions among residents at a rooming house, where about a dozen inhabitants are being evicted.

WPTV wanted to know if there were any health or code violations to this particular building and if the city was aware of the living conditions. WPTV asked to speak to the Belle Glade Code Enforcement officer to find answers, but the mayor came out instead to address the issue.

"We get those calls, we hear about it, we go out there. We’re knocking on doors to make sure people are OK, and we’ll address it," said Mayor Steve Wilson.

Wilson said he was unaware of any violations at the apartment building off the 700 block of West Avenue A after a new property owner acquired it.

"I can’t say to this particular building that there were any liens or any code violations that was stipulated on this particular project. But the bottom line is, through the administration now, we’re going to do one building at a time and make sure that these people have a place to go," Wilson said.

WPTV obtained a 2018 building code report from the city of Belle Glade where it listed nine violations, including unsafe sanitary conditions.

According to the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, there were no improvements made.

"But again, there are some things that go under the radar that you may not know of. Like this particular building on the inside. You can’t stomach people living like that. We find out the issues and the conditions we’re on top of," Wilson said.

But for people who still live in the building like Jeffery Weston, their reality is a different story.

"He hasn’t come by or stopped by and said nothing. He always goes to his house and looks over here and doesn't say anything. And that's the hard part," Weston said.

Weston and others are concerned about ending up on the street because of financial hardships and have no other place to go.

The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County said evictions could happen within days.

"You out here trying to work in the cornfield and pepper field, and trying to make a living. These people are going through changes right now. Like I said, they’re going through a lot of things now and we’re just tired," Weston said.

The mayor also said he wants yearly building code inspections moving forward.