WSAZ Investigates | Residents Blindsided by Apartment Complex Closure

WSAZ Investigates | Residents Blindsided by Apartment Complex Closure
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 7:05 PM EDT
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ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) – In a follow-up to a story we reported nearly a week ago, residents of an Ashland apartment complex must find new homes after the city condemned the building.

The city deemed the building a public safety risk after determining the building’s hot water system did not have proper carbon monoxide ventilation.

WSAZ’s Kimberly Keagy is digging for answers from the property owner after the city’s action affected nearly three dozen families.

Among them is Josh Virgin who says he was speechless when he came home to a sign on the front door of the apartment building where he lives. That sign read that the building was dangerous, unsafe - and now condemned.

“I worked hard for everything I got and for him to just take it from me and put me out on the street. It’s not right,” Virgin said.

He, along with more than 30 other families, called the Vincent Apartments building home - until last week.

Jerry Thomas lived at the apartment building for four years.

“My suitcase is stuffed full of stuff that I saved for my daughters like her old school papers, her first tooth, and her baby shoes things that can’t be replaced,” said Thomas.

The city of Ashland condemned the apartments with an order to repair or demolish them nearly a week ago, saying the property was a public safety risk.

Chris Pullem, Ashland’s community and economic development director, said this comes after the city’s code enforcement officers responded to the building in January for a complaint about a boiler not working.

A report from code enforcement’s visit that day reads in part, “one of the boilers in the building was not working, and therefore the heat in a portion of the building was not functional.”

That report also shows that in several units, carbon monoxide detectors were missing or not working.

In addition, Pullem said code enforcement also found a hot water heater in the basement did not have the proper carbon monoxide ventilation -- a problem he says could be deadly.

So, his office contacted the owner of the building and told him if he could correct the issues, they would only have to condemn seven units instead of the whole building.

As time went on, Pullem said some of the necessary repairs were made, but not enough to allow residents to remain living there or to allow them back into those seven units.

And last week, Pullem said the city finally had no choice but to shut the entire building down.

Keagy tried calling Eric Vincent to ask him some questions.

“The person you’re trying to reach is not accepting calls at this time. Please, try again later,” the message said.

On Wednesday, Keagy tried calling again. This time, the call went through, but no one answered, so she left a message.

The city says Vincent has been at the apartments a couple of times in the last few days, so Keagy even tried to pay him a visit -- but no luck.

Residents like Thomas say they just wish the situation didn’t end with them losing their homes.

“It’s heartbreaking seeing people, everybody coming out with their stuff and knowing that everything they’re bringing out is not everything they have,” he said.

The city did provide resources to find residents temporary housing.

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