Condemned Norwich building displaces ten families

New London

Yellow condemned signs are posted on the doors of two apartment buildings between 548-480 Norwich Avenue in the Taftville section of the city. It’s one word which has turned many lives upside down.

“I’m in Hartford with my special needs baby in an appointment when I come back I see all the condemned papers on the wall, on the doors,” said displaced tenant Ruth Quinones. “We had to leave that same day.”

Ten of the 12 townhouses in the Norwich apartment buildings were full of families like Ruth Quinones who has six kids. Latoya Matthews has two.

“I threw out a full deep freezer like the same size as a refrigerator of meat,” said Matthews.

Power was cut to the buildings on Thursday when tenants were given just hours to get out.

“How are we going to move all these kids,” saud Quinones. “When I came over here to human services everybody was in here.”

The city is providing emergency housing at local hotels for families with children under 18.

“For me it’s hard,” said Matthews. “I buy food to cook. I don’t buy food to microwave.”

The city will also help with first month’s rent and security for all the familes once they find a permanent place to live. It then seeks reimbursement from the owner of the buildings.

“This is frustrating, the kids, all the situation,” said Quinones. “I want to pull my hairs off but at the end of the day I prefer to be out and my kids safe than to be in there and something worse happens.”

The city found the buildings were unfit for human occupancy citing structural problems, unsanitary conditions, mold, and a pipe which connects furnaces to the chinmeys for ventilation was rotted out.

“Our carbon monoxide was high,” said Quinones. “In our system.”

“Some people called the humane society and gave their pets away,” said Matthews.

Members of one family has already started packing things up. They learned today the city will pay for a storage unit if they want to move things out but they can also keep things in their unit until they find a new place to live and then the city will help with moving expenses. 

Esteban Vargas-Marrero told News 8 that even though the building inspector’s reason for condemning the building – that a pipe between a boiler and furnace was rotted and disconnected – is true, he said the boiler was disconnected before the building was purchased and it is now electric heat and all units have their own individual heat. He said the inspector was contacted immediately following the building being condemned and told this and the inspector’s office said this then would be a good time to fix some other smaller issues with the property. He added that since there is no gas and it’s electric – allegations of CO in the air are not accurate.  

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