Multiple families, including nearly two dozen children, were moved into a hotel and temporary housing Tuesday night after officials say they discovered “horrific” conditions in a northwest Dayton apartment building.
Residents of an apartment building at 1119 Linda Vista Ave. were living in an untenable and crisis situation, and multiple city departments and outside agencies pitched in to help manage the emergency, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.
“All of the residents have been moved and relocated to a nearby hotel,” she said. “The Foodbank and St. Vincent will provide meals going forward.”
Multiple people told the Dayton Daily News the apartment building had plumbing issues and contained feces in a lower level once used for parking and the electricity and utilities were shut off.
One resident said the building is owned is a “notorious” landlord that has had serious issues in other states. But multiple people said the property recently changed hands.
Dickstein said the city’s housing division will hold the property owner accountable, and residents will remain at the hotel until the housing problems are fixed.
Or, she said, residents may receive assistance to find new permanent housing.
“It was a traumatic situation, that no one should have to endure,” said Dayton City Commissioner Jeffrey Mims Jr.
A city inspector was out at the apartment property on May 17 because of a plumbing issue that caused wastewater to pool in a lower level once used for parking, said Steven Gondol, Dayton’s deputy director of planning and community development.
The inspector issued an order requiring the problem to be fixed by Wednesday, and a plumber was on site at some point, Gondol said.
But the property evidently changed hands on May 17, Gondol said, and gas and electricity service were turned off.
About half the units on Wednesday afternoon had electricity, while the other half still did not, and gas service was still not yet restored, Gondol said.
The new owners say they are working to get gas service turned back on again, he said, and they have vowed to clean up and sanitize the property.
Residents are permitted to return to their units to collect belongings and other necessities, but they being instructed to remain at temporary accommodations until the problems are fixed.
Inspectors issued a new order on Wednesday demanding the owners remedy the issues by Friday afternoon, Gondol said.
He said the city will work to determine who is responsible for the unsafe living conditions and why they did not take corrective measures.
“We need to look into this to see how much of this fell on the previous ownership and how much on the new ownership,” he said.
Fire crews on Tuesday night surveyed the building and performed wellness checks on residents.
Incident command coordinated with Greater Dayton RTA to provide transportation for residents to take them to a hotel in Moraine, officials said.
“Late Tuesday evening, RTA received a call from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s local office asking for assistance with transporting residents from a housing complex without power to a safe, temporary housing solution,” said Greater Dayton RTA CEO Bob Ruzinsky. “I am proud of the RTA team who stepped up immediately to provide two buses to assist in the relocation effort.”
St. Vincent de Paul Society is providing hotel rooms for 18 adults and 23 children from the Linda Vista building, said Michael Vanderburgh, the organization’s executive director.
“We are committed to continue serving each person in need until they can re-establish stable housing,” he said.
A longtime resident of the building who did not wish to be named said the property has fallen into serious disrepair in recent years.
He said the owner did not address his and other tenants’ many complaints about trash, mice, insect infestations and other problems, like malfunctioning plumbing, mechanical systems and appliances.
The resident, who packed up his belongings on Wednesday, said Dayton firefighters knocked on his door last night and instructed him to vacate the building because it was unsafe.
He said he really likes the neighborhood and his neighbors but he grew sick of the bad ownership.
According to Montgomery County Auditor records, the property is owned by Moonstone Property Investment LLC, which has a mailing address of 8566 112th Terrace N. in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Florida state records indicate a company called Moonstone Investments LLC was registered at the same address, belonging to Michelle Rashaed.
People with knowledge of the LLC and the ownership of the apartment building confirmed it belonged to Elijah Mohammed Rashaed, who has been described in numerous Wisconsin news reports as a “notorious” Milwaukee landlord.
Someone listed as Elijan Mohammed Rashaed was cited for traffic violations last year in Dayton, according to Dayton Municipal Court records, which identify his home address as 8566 N. 112th Terrace, West Palm Beach, Florida.
The county auditor and recorder said they have no records indicating the property recently sold or otherwise changed hands.
But Gondol, with the city, said the property was sold and inspectors have been in contact with representatives for the new owner.
Brandon McClain, the Montgomery County recorder, said he was at the scene for nearly three hours on Tuesday night to assist residents, and what he saw was unacceptable.”
“I was extremely concerned for their safety ― not just for the issue of what was going on at that moment, but also for moving forward,” he said. “This is something that should never happen to any person, anywhere at any time.”