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GRENADA, Calif. — The tenants of an apartment complex in the Siskiyou County town of Grenada were scrambling to find a new place to live after they were evicted and found that their building had been condemned.
The building at 6040 Siskiyou Boulevard houses about a dozen units. Former residents of the apartments there said that they had filed reports with the County Health Department due to plumbing issues, mold, bed bugs, mice and insect infestations in at least some of the units.
Complaints or requests to the building's management for repairs or solutions to ongoing issues largely went unanswered, tenants reported.
“We’d ask them to fix things . . . our toilet wobbled because the floor was rotten underneath," said former tenant Larry Schneider. "It took them a year to fix it, and like I said, all they did was put a big band-aid on it. They put a piece of wood on it, and made it look as decent as they possibly could.”
Schneider described most problems in the building dealt with in similar fashion, if at all — like a new coat of paint in the hallways instead of addressing the more serious issues.
According to the Siskiyou County Environmental Health Division, tenants had been complaining about the building for years. Eventually officials received enough complaints that they moved forward with an investigation of the building, deeming it unfit for occupancy.
Rick Dean, deputy director for Environmental Health, confirmed that inspectors found mold and a rodent infestation in the building, accompanied by an overall lack of maintenance.
"It comes down to a definition of substandard housing," said Dean.
“The health department said, I guess they went to court or something happened, this place wasn’t even worth a hundred bucks rent, and I’d advise you guys to not pay your rent and get out of there because you’re just throwing your money away,” said Schneider.
That process began about four or five months ago, Schneider said, and he began looking for a new place to live at that point.
Carin Giles moved out of the building a few years ago, but she's stayed in touch with people like Schneider and her brother, who continued to live there. She says that Environmental Health began telling people that they were looking to condemn the building, but a notice didn't go up until last week.
A "Notice to Vacate" sent by the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office — dated February 10 and addressed to Schneider — said that he needed to leave by the morning of February 20 or face removal by the agency. A notice from Environment Health was also posted on the building February 10, notifying residents that it was a misdemeanor to occupy the building.
While Schneider and Giles didn't express any great love for the building on Siskiyou Boulevard, the problem has been finding an affordable place to live now that it's being shuttered.
“We were looking at apartments, and you know, nothing was in a reasonable price range," Schneider said. "We ended up finding a trailer, and we’re squeaking by every month just to make it and to pay for this, so that we could get out of here and not cause any problems.”
Hard as it was for Schneider, there were others in the building who face a more significant challenge — the elderly or infirm tenants, and those with young children. Schneider and Giles said that one senior tenant was hospitalized earlier in the week, and has nowhere to go, nor the means to do it. He paid his rent for February, Giles said, and was still in his apartment on the day they were told to have vacated.
Schneider said that one of the biggest issues in the eviction process has been a lack of transparency.
“Bottom line, that they went about everything the wrong way," he said. "It was always hearsay, very rarely did they talk to us saying 'okay, this is what we’re going to do, this is what we’re going to do.' You know, I’d hear it from neighbors, and I’d here it from all kinds of people besides them.”
For Giles, she thinks the building has actually seen worse days and should have been condemned several years ago. While the management has tried to gradually make improvements since then, she says, they were too little, too late.
Environmental Health deputy director Dean said that his agency has been working with the building's owner to resolve the health code violations.
NewsWatch 12 has reached out to the owner's attorney for comment but has not yet received a response.
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