Displaced residents clear out furniture in condemned Belle Glade building

PBC officials still working on temporary housing
Posted at 5:30 PM, Jan 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 18:03:10-05

There has been slow progress at a Belle Glade apartment complex deemed too dangerous to live in.

The residents, who were kicked out days before Christmas, were there there again on Tuesday but they weren't moving back in. They're being told to get everything out now so construction can begin to make the place livable again.

Residents spent hours and hours hauling furniture, mattresses and other belongings out of the building.

"The big issue is plumbing, electricity and cracks in the building," said property manager Jean Claude LeStage.

The property owners say everything must go before construction can begin next Monday; construction could take two to three months.

"Whether that's gonna happen or not at least he's at the table that he wants to do something," said Belle Glade mayor Steve Wilson. "He did indicate that he wanted to correct the problems and if that's the case, I support him 100 percent."

Wilson has been in communication with the property owners from two different complexes on the same street that were condemned in December. Both were deemed too dangerous and the city says they sent notices to the owners, but the owners said they were not given enough time to address the issues.

"I was more concerned that we didn't have any type of disaster during the holiday weekend," said Mayor Wilson.

The first building was condemned in early December, sending residents to stay at the Horizon Inn. The second building was condemned on Dec. 22 and residents were placed into rooms at the Okeechobee Inn.

As of Jan. 3, several families were still staying in the two hotels. Belle Glade partnered with the hotels to open up their rooms and the county is footing the bill to house the residents.

Mayor Wilson says Palm Beach County will continue paying for hotel stay for dozens of the displaced residents but Palm Beach County Family Services is also working with low income families to find temporary housing.

"That's the decision on the apartment renters. If they decide they want to go somewhere else they will still have the opportunity," said Mayor Wilson. "We don't know to three months, it may be for five months so who knows? But if there's opportunities for them to get placement now we're gonna make sure that happens."

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who oversees the district, said they are also working to get two elderly residents placed in the Quiet Waters senior complex this week.

Several of the displaced residents are local farm workers, many of whom do not speak English. The city is still providing transportation for them to go to work, school or anywhere they need to go.

Click here to read more about how the community has stepped up to help.

Property managers say those who paid rent will not get their money back.

"I told them whatever you pay [for] rent, keep the receipt," said LeStage.

But we're told that money will go into the tens of thousands in needed repairs. Either way, Mayor Wilson says it's progress.

"It's a process and we're appreciative that people are considering that these folks need help at this point in time," he said.