South LA building condemned; owner to be billed for tenant relocation


The building is deteriorating and filthy, and it was never designed for people to live in in the first place. Tenants say they were desperate for housing.

It had been a medical clinic. But for more than 10 years tenants have made office spaces and examination rooms their homes.

To sleep in a room with no vents, no window and no way to escape a fire, tenants paid $400 to $650 per month, per person.

To wash kitchen utensils, pots, pans, nine people shared a tiny sink in a bathroom.

Advocates from the Inner City Law Center blew the whistle. Fire inspectors arrived and found something worse than rotting ceilings.

"There is no fire or smoke detectors, the doors are not hard core so that fire can easily go from one unit to the other," said Francisco Covarrubias, the director of tenant organizing with the Inner City Law Center.

A flier lured some tenants with the promise of a clean, safe, secure building. That's not what tenants found.

The fire department has now condemned the property. But now the tenants are in another fix. They have to get out.

It's an emergency that did not have to happen, say advocates. Records show that the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety knew that people were living here as far back as 2002.

Thursday, the department told Eyewitness News that it only learned of the building's illegal use last year and have since made the property a high priority.

The Inner City Law Center said the city has stayed the order for tenants to vacate on Friday. It is a reprieve for the tenants. Instead of being out on the street Friday, they will have until April 18 to find another place to live.

The city's department of housing will front tenants the money for relocation costs and bill the owner of the property.

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