COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Tenants of a troubled Columbus apartment complex have a lot to figure out as they start the new year.
The Latitude Five25 apartments were evacuated late last month after burst pipes caused significant damage, with Columbus officials determining the buildings are not safe to live in right now.
The city reached an agreement with the owners, Paxe Latitude, Tuesday, but residents are still in temporary housing.
Many Latitude Five25 tenants were put at a Red Roof Inn in Westerville by the city, and have been there since Friday.
Tenants said the agreement the city reached with the owners of the complex is a step in the right direction, but also that there’s a long way to go.
“It’s like the catch-22,” said resident Christina Baylor. “We’re not in the street, but it’s not home.”
Baylor is one of the many other Latitude Five25 tenants staying in the Westerville hotel since the city of Columbus determined their Near East Side apartment complex is not safe to live in.
“I feel like everybody deserves their own home, and the hotel is, at least it’s warm and it’s not outside, but it’s not home,” Baylor said. “That’s the sad part, it’s not home. And you got people with more than one person in their family cooped up in this hotel with a microwave and a refrigerator.”
She said the last week and a half have been horrible. It’s her grandson’s first holiday season and it’s been spent without a permanent home.
“It’s very difficult, and then people getting their kids to school,” Baylor said. “They had to come up for plans with that, getting to work, some of their jobs are not obviously out here or nowhere near here.”
According to the city, pipes at Latitude Five25 burst on Christmas day, leading to flooding, heat not working, three of four elevators not working, and other issues.
The agreement between the city and the owners requires the owners to get the problems repaired and let tenants out of their leases without repercussions.
Baylor and others said it’s a step in the right direction, but they’re still unsure of what comes next.
“I’m searching,” said resident Kia Young. “I’ve been searching since I’ve been here. I’m, like, ‘Oh, the hotel is nice, and I appreciate everything.’ It’s a blessing, but at the same time, it’s not my house.”
“So however long this takes, it’s great they got these plans in place, but however long this takes, you still feel away because you’re not at your own home or at a home that belongs to you,” Baylor said.
Residents said they don’t know exactly how long they’ll be at the hotel.
The Columbus City Attorney’s Office said the agreement will also help get the apartment complex transferred to a new owner quickly.