COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – All 104 residents of a troubled Columbus apartment complex have vacated their former home as of Friday, according to Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein.
The former tenants of the 400-unit twin towers were left with just one working elevator and without potable water, heat or fire systems on Christmas day after pipes burst in the complex. With the residents departed, Klein’s office said Latitude Five25 is now completely empty.
The group originally moved to a Red Cross emergency shelter, but the city attorney’s office has since taken the displaced residents to local hotels.
“The next steps are permanent housing for residents and court action to hold the owners responsible for allowing the apartments to deteriorate to unlivable conditions,” Klein said.
Before the Christmas calamity at the complex, it was the site of more than 1,000 calls to police between Jan. 7, 2020, and Jan. 6, 2022, according to court documents. Overdoses, stabbings, fights and regular calls to shootings plagued the towers, the city’s complaints alleged. They also listed roach infestations, bed bugs, busted pipes, water damage, broken doors and broken windows in housing inspector reports.
Latitude Five25 residents told NBC4 their experience has been a real-life nightmare.
“We’re traumatized,” resident Linda Prysock said. “We don’t know, and I had to go up and get what I could in tote bags. my life is still up there.”
Both the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority and the R.H. Brown and Company Community Shelter Board are working to find permanent housing for all of them. The city and Franklin County have each made $750,000 available to assist with housing and support costs for the tenants.
Rev. Jed Dearing with Trinity Episcopal Church has been trying to support residents in any way he can. He served as a chaplain at the emergency center set up at Dodge Community Center.
The church also started a fundraiser for residents — which has raised about $30,000 of its $50,000 goal since residents were suddenly displaced Christmas day.
“Our hope really is to to able to provide money that goes directly to former residents of Latitude Five25,” Dearing said.
The city attorney’s office also filed contempt charges on Tuesday against the complex’s ownership group, Paxe Latitude, piled on top of an existing $50,000 contempt fine from two months prior. The company had previously agreed in October to the fine and to sell Latitude Five25 within 90 days.
“We need to find someone who understands a large apartment complex, who has the financial wherewithal to make the necessary improvements, that are willing to invest in security so that we don’t find ourselves in the same position in a couple years,” Klein said.
The receiver group that Paxe sold to would facilitate repairs and set into motion the preparations to sell LatitudeFive25 to a new group, Klein’s office said.
Recently, a receivership group took over another troubled Columbus apartment complex, the 508-unit Colonial Village on Rand Avenue in the Eastmoor neighborhood. The Robert Weiler Company made numerous building improvements to open the door for a potential buyer.