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Apt. Residents Furious Over Forced Eviction

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There were cries of desperation and anxious moments at a Little Havana apartment building Monday as nearly 80 people living in the building were forced to leave their homes because the structure was deemed unsafe.

"It's ridiculous. It's not fair. We pair our rent on the first and now we are flat broke. We have nothing," said Jessica Hernandez as she shed tears about being evicted from the Douglas Apartments at 971 West Flagler St. where the fire department had posted signs saying tenants had to vacate the premises.

"They couldn't give enough time," said Hernandez. "There's no time to lease so quickly on a weekend. Nothing is open. They just gave us 72 hours notice on Friday to get out. That was nothing. That was not fair."

"My dog is freaking out," she said. "He doesn't know what to do. My husband doesn't know what to do. It's just ridiculous. Children are freaking out because of this. My friends and her kids are out there on the streets. And their babies will be out there on the streets."

"And what is everyone going to do," she told CBS4's Peter D'Oench. "They are going to look at us and say, 'oh well.'"

"I feel so bad," said Barbara Carballo. "I feel it's so wrong. They could have given us an extra couple of days or something."

"This is bad," said her roommate Yaretha Wolfe. "What are we going to do?"

Lt. Ignatius Carroll Jr. of the Miami Fire Department told CBS4, "This is a matter of fire and health code violations. There are fire alarms and smoke detectors not working. Also, there is a health violation because there is a busted pipe that is letting go of raw sewage."

"The building owner has had plenty of time to take care of this but he has not done this," said Carroll. "The renters should be able to move back in if the problems are addressed."

But it's not known if the owner will address the problems and how long that would take.

CBS4 was not able to reach the owner for comment.

"The situation is very frustrating and stressful," said Danny Santana. "We don't know where we are going to live."

Ana Gamez and Javier Marenco told CBS4 they were very worried about their future.

They said they have been living in their 2nd floor apartment since 1990. Right now, they are also caring for their 4-year-old granddaughter.

In Spanish, with a frown on her face, Gamez said, "Who wouldn't be pulling their hairs out if you had to be thrown out on the street."

Miami Firefighters and Police spent the day scouring the building and assisting some of the renters who were moving out, with luggage, beds and other belongings.

There have been a number of dramatic developments at this building.

On Friday, Miami Police raced to the building and arrested a man who struck a Miami firefighter with his car.

Police say Brinio Medrano was angry that he and his wife on Friday had been given the same 72 hours notice to vacate his ground-floor business.

Carroll said that firefighter was treated for his injuries at a hospital and released. He was actually back on the job Monday and was seen at the building where the evictions were taking place.


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