Houston Orders Residents Out of Complex Deemed Dangerous

The city of Houston has ordered an estimated 265 residents to move out of an apartment complex by April 1 because of dangerous health and safety conditions.

Violations at the Carter’s Grove Apartments included electrical hazards, backed-up sewage, leaky roofs and piles of trash, said Frank Michel, a spokesman for Mayor Bill White.

Last month, two young children were shocked and hospitalized after playing with an unsecured electrical transformer at the complex.

“We can’t ignore the fact that the health and safety of the people who live there is in danger,” Michel said. “Conditions there are very dire.”

Michel said it’s the first time the city has revoked the certificate of occupancy for a complex.

The complex has been the subject of more than 200 building-code, fire and police citations since January, he said.

On March 27, notices in English and Spanish were placed on every door of the 16-building complex’s 135 units warning that residents must be out by Sunday and electricity will be shut off Monday.

“They didn’t say why. The city just told us we had to leave,” said Arturo Lopez, who has lived in the complex for 10 years with his family. “We liked it here. We had no problems here.”

Michel said the mayor’s office has raised private funds to help residents move to better apartments and cover expenses such as rental applications, medical needs and temporary food assistance.

City officials and volunteers will be at the complex daily this week to help residents look for new apartments and make moving arrangements, he said.

The complex owner, listed in Harris County records as Carter’s Grove Garden Apartments on Coney Island Drive in Brooklyn, N.Y., filed a motion for a temporary restraining order Tuesday in a state district court.

District Judge Sharolyn Wood turned down the motion but ordered the city to hold an administrative hearing Friday. Wood will hold a hearing Monday if city officials rule against the property owner.

Michel said the court action won’t affect the requirement that all residents leave by Sunday.

Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com