Despite an order from a federal housing agency earlier this year that all tenants of Hartford’s beleaguered Barbour Garden apartments be relocated, a HUD spokesperson said Thursday that 59 families are still living at the complex.
Residents in two of the four buildings are facing a new hurdle: raw sewage. Officials say it started in building four Tuesday night and spread to building three on Wednesday.
“They told us that the water would be off until 6 p.m. and it turned out that we had to leave,” said Gerald Parker, who was among the 29 families evacuated at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
“It was an emergency. You had to leave ASAP,” added his neighbor Patricia Little.
The city gave the property owner, Martin Rothman of Adar Hartford Realty, LLC 24 hours to fix the back-up and when that didn’t happen, says it ordered the evacuation.
Little said she knew something wasn’t right when she stepped out into her hallway on Wednesday.
“It smelled like a sewer coming out of my building, coming out my door,” she recalled. “I mean oh my God, now this. What else do we have to go through? It’s not even fair to us.”
The problems at this Section Eight housing complex have been well-chronicled, from mold and mice to broke fire alarms and blocked exits.
“We have fleas in our house from the dead cats in the basement,” said Parker.
The owners, who were taking $750,000 a year from the federal government for this property, lost their HUD contract after the buildings scored just a nine out of 100 on a recent inspection. HUD has been working to relocate residents in the 68 occupied units since April 1. So far, the agency says just nine families have received placement with four more signing leases.
HUD Public Affairs Officer for the New England Region told NBC Connecticut News, “We have set August 19 as the target date to relocate the residents of Barbour Gardens. As that date gets closer they will make a determination on a case by case basis whether that date needs to be pushed further out.”
A city spokesperson says the 29 families evacuated due to the back-up were brought to a Hartford hotel last night.
“Everything’s good. I’m not upset or anything like that because this is the best thing that could have happened,” said Parker of the situation at the hotel. “It’s a good thing they’re doing what they’re doing by giving us somewhere else to live.”
The tenants could be there for up to six days, according to one city official. The city is picking up the tab for both the plumbing work on the property and the hotel rooms. A city spokesperson said the city will try to get reimbursed.
Parker hopes to stay at the hotel until he gets a new permanent place to live and says he’s working to move out for good.
“I don’t want to come back, I really don’t,” he said of Barbour Garden.