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East Orange working to help dozen families displaced after Harrison Street building deemed uninhabitable

East Orange working to help dozen families displaced after building deemed uninhabitable
East Orange working to help dozen families displaced after building deemed uninhabitable 02:23

EAST ORANGE, N.J. -- More than a dozen families in East Orange were forced out of their homes after the city deemed their building uninhabitable.

The building is one of several apartment complexes to be condemned by the city in recent months.

As CBS New York found out, the displaced residents were on the verge of being kicked out of a motel as well.

Angry residents said they were barely given any notice to get out of their apartments at 65 South Harrison St.

"We were not notified that we were getting put out that day. They just came knocking on the door, told us we had to grab whatever we could within minutes. I had just come from the hospital. I just suffered a stroke," Alison Artist said.

Some of the displaced residents documented their emergency evacuation on Sept. 26 in Spanish.

"It's hard. It's hard," said Judith Judge, a mother of three.

Judge has been complaining about conditions in her apartment for months.

"My utility box keeps popping and you see the little electrical flares that's popping. The light switches keep flickering in and out. The floor is not level," Judge said.

READ MORETenants in East Orange, N.J. take stand, say they want immediate repairs to their troubled building

The families now staying at the Ramada Inn on Evergreen Place held a press conference on Wednesday, saying the motel has warned them the building's owner is stopping payment on their stay.

"I was actually one of the people that was informed by the hotel staff today that checkout time was at 12 o'clock," Judge said.

"We are not putting these tenants out. I got with my team early this morning and told my team whatever we have to do for these people to stay here and get them somewhere to live, we are going to do that," East Orange Mayor Ted R. Green said.

The mayor, who showed up as residents spoke, said the city had no choice but to get the residents out. He said inspectors saw cracks in the building. He also said the city will hold property owner Harrison Management, LLC, accountable.

"We did go after the landlord. We do have violations on this landlord," Green said. "We got a warrant out for his arrest. We are trying to locate him, and we are going to get him."

CBS New York asked the mayor and the code enforcement director when or if the displaced residents would be allowed back into their building. They said they didn't know.

CBS New York reached out to Harrison Management, LLC by phone. The owner did not want to comment on the allegations, but said he is helping displaced residents.

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