Few options for River Place residents evicted from distressed building on Tuesday

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Since midnight Tuesday, the tenants of River Place Residence have been out. For some, leaving River Place means living on the streets.

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The small apartment building at 245 Detroit Street was deemed unsafe last week by the city of Windsor and residents have until midnight Tuesday to leave.

Renters said they were facing the deadline with very few options.

“IIt’s a nightmare, ”said John Bradley, a tenant at River Place. “It was one thing after another and now we’re all basically on the streets.”

It’s a shame to come to this

Some of the residents of the building, including Bradley, had moved to River Place from “Tent City,” the inner-city settlement of the city dissolved by authorities late last year. Bradley said he has lived in River Place in his own bedroom since then and initially hoped it was a chance to change his life.

Trevor, a resident of River Place, expresses his frustration with the West Windsor apartment building on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. He was among the building's many movers after the city deemed it unsafe .
Trevor, a resident of River Place, expresses his frustration with the West Windsor apartment building on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. He was among the building’s many movers after the city deemed it unsafe . Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

He believes at least 20 of the building’s 30 to 40 residents had nowhere to go past Tuesday’s deadline, including himself.

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“There is nothing (to rent) there. It’s the middle of the month, ”Bradley said, adding that for some, shelters were not an option. “A lot of us are on the streets. I was hoping we would find a place to stay together.

The City of Windsor first issued a dangerous construction order for the small apartment building at 245 Detroit Street on July 8, giving the building owners time to correct issues such as lack of running water and functional fire alarms.

City officials said on Thursday that some issues had been resolved – but running water had not been kept in the building, so it was unsanitary and dangerous. Authorities issued an occupancy ban: all residents were to be out and the building secured to prevent occupation from midnight Tuesday.

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“It’s so unfortunate to come to this,” Debbie Cercone, executive director of housing, homelessness and children services, said in a city statement last week. “The loss of these units will further exacerbate the lack of affordable housing in the community. “

Trevor, a River Place resident is shown in the West Windsor apartment building on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. He is one of the building's many movers after the city deemed him unsafe.
Trevor, a River Place resident is shown in the West Windsor apartment building on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. He is one of the building’s many movers after the city deemed him unsafe. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Cercone said in a city statement on Tuesday that they were working one-on-one with tenants to find housing, as well as information about other support services.

Michael Thiele, a coat representing owner Yelong Li and the numbered company that owns River Place, said his client makes efforts to fix problems in the building before things are allegedly “intentionally vandalized”. For example, Thiele said the building’s copper pipes had been removed in recent days after the building’s water was restored.

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There was a certain fatality, given what was going on in the building, to the order that was made, ”said Thiele. “I don’t think anyone is happy with that.”

“These were tragic circumstances for tenants who clearly need more support than they receive.”

Locals Tammy-Lynn Champman and Patrick Law were in River Place on Tuesday delivering food and talking to people. Acting as unofficial outreach workers, the two said they were helping people find places to go.

“We haven’t figured everyone out yet,” Law said. “Right now it’s just us helping.”

Chapman said he made calls and emails to local service agencies, coordinated food donations and deliveries, and even secured portable toilets placed on the site. It was installed Tuesday afternoon, just hours before residents left the building.

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Both acknowledged there had been issues with the building, but said tenants needed on-site support staff to help keep things under control. Now it’s about finding the right accommodation for the right people.

“Some people are better suited to certain places than others,” he said. “That’s what makes it so difficult. They just got a little strength under their feet and pulled it out from under them. Add the mental health component, and it’s 10 times more of a hardship.

Chapman said many tenants who paid rent to be in the building were disheartened and believed they had a right to be there. Some had found accommodation for Tuesday night, but it was probably temporary.

“There is only so much housing, so many places to go,” Chapman said. “(River Place) is their home now, and they have to get out.

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“I can’t give them false hope. We are assembling tents.

  1. Sarah Hodgkins, a resident of River Place at 245 Detroit St. in Old Town Sandwich, takes a look at the men's community washroom on Thursday, July 15, 2021. The City of Windsor has issued a restraining order. Occupancy and all residents must be of the building by July 20.

    Residence declared unsanitary, tenants evicted before July 20 Author of the article:

  2. A man sleeps in a park near Town Hall Square on Thursday, March 11, 2021.

    Jarvis: “The problem is big, it is complex and we cannot count on the goodwill of kind-hearted people to solve this problem.”

  3. Windsor police inform homeless people that they must leave their camp on private property on Caron Avenue and University Avenue West on November 4, 2020.

    Tent City of Windsor evicted; Advocacy groups help homeless people find new homes

As for the sequel, Bradley said he didn’t know any of his friends in the building who had found places to go. He believed that a group might protest against the order, but otherwise risked living on the streets – or in jail.

“When we moved here, theyknew we had had problems in our lives, ”he said. “They took us, and that’s what’s happening. We are thrown into the streets. We don’t have the chance to risk our lifestyle.

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