MIAMI BEACH – (CBS4) – Residents of a rundown Miami Beach apartment building have to be out of their homes by Thursday night after the building was declared unsafe.
The building, located at 426 Meridian Avenue, is in disrepair. But residents are upset with the timing of the eviction, just one week before Christmas.
“I haven’t done any packing, I’m not moving out,” said resident Edward Rapp.
Rapp,63, has lived in the building for the last six years, paying $500 a month on rent. He’s a veteran of the Vietnam War and isn’t interested in leaving his home.“I told the cops, ‘you can handcuff me and drag me downstairs,’” Rapp said. “I have not been properly notified they’re closing this place down.”
But the city is stepping in to help the more than 40 residents living at the building and most of the residents are accepting the city’s offer for help.
“I don’t really know,” a resident said. “They’re putting us somewhere.”
According to officials, the city is placing residents in a hotel nearby for seven days.
But resident Yvonne Rousseau wishes she had more time.
“To pack in three days is impossible,” she said. “It’s impossible. You know, this is really not our fault.”
Rousseau said she is only taking what she needs and everything else stays behind for now.
The City of Miami Beach said the landlord allowed the building to become unsafe and the building had numerous code violations.
“The city has tried to work with the landlord for many months,” said Miami Beach Assistant City Manager Hilda Fernandez.
The building manager told CBS4’s Christina Puig that although he’s made the necessary repairs, he admits the building is falling apart. But, the building manager doesn’t agree with how the elderly and disabled residents are being forced out with such short notice.
As word spread about the evictions, good Samaritans came forward to help the building’s elderly and disabled residents leave the building.
“I understand that there are seniors here that are being displaced and our facility feels that we may be able to benefit these residents,” said Rachel Schuster, administrator of South Pointe Residence.
The good Samaritans who helped were nonetheless furious about how the building’s residents were treated.
“They should not throw them out just like that,” said volunteer Charlie Maniscalvo. “They should give them at least two or three months if anything.”
After the seven days of temporary shelter runs out, the residents will either have to find a new place to live, or go to a homeless shelter.
One of the building’s owners includes local investor Simon Nemni who also serves on the city’s Historic Preservation Board. He said didn’t know the building had been declared unsafe until Tuesday.
Nemni said he and his partners in Chicago had planned to turn the building into a hotel but then the bottom fell out of the real estate market and those plans went bust. He added that he didn’t have any solutions for his tenants yet.