Residents evacuated from ‘horrific Dayton apartment conditions’ want out, but that’s no easy task

City inspectors say residents can move back in.

Many people who live in the apartments at 1119 Linda Vista Ave. say they want to move out because they are fed up with the unsafe and appalling living conditions ― but that’s easier said than done.

The apartments were evacuated earlier this week after sewage flooded the basement, spilling out into the street, and electric and gas service also were turned off.

Some residents told and showed the Dayton Daily News that they are living with mold, cockroaches, mice and other pests, as well as damaged or malfunctioning electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems.

But residents said moving and finding new housing isn’t cheap or easy, and they don’t know what they are going to do.

One resident, Michelle Libecap, decided to move out and abandon everything in her apartment except her clothing, because she says it was ruined by mold, insects and other pests.

“I am currently homeless,” she said. “This made me homeless.”

On Tuesday night, residents of the 18-unit apartment complex at 1119 Linda Vista Ave. were evacuated by fire crews and city officials and sent to stay a hotel in Moraine because of what city leaders called “horrific” conditions.

A burst pipe caused sewage to collect in a lower level that used to be a parking area.

Many residents for days could smell the sewage in their units, and the wastewater level got so high it reached the second step of the basement stairwell.

“There were feces everywhere ― the whole basement, all the way out to the sidewalk, all the way down the sidewalk,” said Dawn Manz, 46, who lives in the building with her three kids. “It’s still out there.”

The apartment complex was home to 23 kids, and for days there was sewage pouring onto the street as the children played outside, which is dangerous and made tenants ill, Manz said.

The city of Dayton on Friday afternoon said its housing department has been working with the property’s new owners to address remaining issues.

Housing, fire and public health officials completed an inspection Friday morning and were “satisfied with the ongoing cleanup efforts and saw evidence that remaining issues were being addressed and that no life safety conditions were apparent,” said Joe Parlette, Dayton’s deputy city manager.

The city has not issued an official vacate order, Parlette said, and residents were cleared to return to their units.

Parlette said the city is committed to holding landlords and owners accountable for providing safe and quality living conditions for residents.

“We will continue to review our housing codes to ensure we have the necessary tools to hold landlords to this standard,” he said.

Manz, like some of her neighbors, says she wants to leave the apartment complex, but she’s on a fixed income and doesn’t have resources to easily relocate.

Manz said she has had numerous problems since moving into the building in 2020.

She said the ceiling of her kitchen caved in, and she still can’t use the overhead light because water still drips from the ceiling.

She has traps full of roaches, and insects scurry when she moves appliances and furniture.

A wall near her fridge caught fire because of pipes busted and wiring issues, she said, and her bathroom sink can’t be used.

Manz said the apartment property will be difficult to bring up to livable conditions, because its problems run deep, like mold in the walls.

Other neighbors told this newspaper they’ve repeatedly and consistently complained to the property managers about mold, broken pipes and dangerous electrical outlets, some of which hang off the walls.

But they said the property management company ignored their requests or took months to show up for repairs, and those oftentimes were insufficient to actually fix the problems.

“They don’t fix anything here,” said Quella Williams, 27, who lives in the building with her four kids. “It takes them months at a time to come out, if they do fix it, it’s only halfway fixed.”

Williams, who is pregnant, said she thinks the building is uninhabitable and should be condemned.

She said she doesn’t trust the owners to make fixes that will resolve the building’s many problems.

“I’m trying to get the help I need to move,” she said. “If I can’t get help, I’m just going to have to figure it out ― but me and my kids can’t stay here.”

The property was recently sold, according to multiple officials, but the last owner was an LLC that was connected to a “notorious landlord” in Milwaukee who was described by tenants in some Wisconsin news reports as a “slumlord.”

Some online fundraisers have been launched to try to help the families involved.

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