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Broken elevators and cockroach infestations: Residents protest owner of Chinatown senior building

Broken elevators and cockroach infestations: Residents protest owner of Chinatown senior building 02:57

Dozens of tenants of a senior living complex in Chinatown took to the streets Tuesday morning to protest against the building's owner, this on the same day that he was arraigned in court for various health and safety violations.

The residents of the 15-story Cathay Manor, located in the 600 block of North Broadway, allege the owner, Don Toy, has been a slumlord for years. They want him removed from managing the building.

In January, Toy was charged with 16 misdemeanor counts by the L.A. City Attorney's Office. The charges include not maintaining a working elevator, numerous fire hazards and allowing the building to fall into a state of disrepair.

Toy was arraigned in L.A. County Superior Court Tuesday. While he did not attend the hearing, his lawyer entered pleas of not guilty on his behalf.

Residents and housing advocates argue that Cathay Manor, which first opened in the 1980s, has been unsafe for decades, often with one or both of its elevators broken. The residents, many of whom use walkers and wheelchairs, are often trapped in their rooms as a result.

"It's taken a very, very long time, and countless meetings and demands made of the city and heads to finally get the elevators fixed," said Frankie Hyunh with the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development. "So as of right now, one of the elevators is up and running, but the second elevator is still being modernized."

Housing advocates also argue that Toy receives millions in federal funds. They want an investigation into where that money has gone.

Community organizers said a December 2021 inspection found hundreds of violations, including cockroach infestations and broken stoves. They also said that he accepted thousands of dollars to allow future residents to bypass a waiting list to get admitted.

Residents also believe two tenants died because it took too long for first responders to reach them in their apartments due to the building's state of disrepair.

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