Thursday, residents at the Princess City Apartments on 12th St. in Mishawaka were evicted from their homes in an emergency condemnation.
Mishawaka's Building Commissioner informed residents Thursday afternoon, they had to evacuate due to bad pipes, leaking onto an electrical unit.
The commissioner told Newscenter 16 it was the leak that led to the immediate condemnation for safety purposes, but that multiple other problems gave reason for concern. The list is long and includes issues involving the structure, electrical units, rotting floor trusses, bad plumbing, mold and excessive mouse droppings.
Residents were offered shelter at the Coalbush United Methodist Church Thursday night, organized by the disaster relief team of the St. Joseph County Red Cross. Kroger provided water and Quality Dining donated food and snacks. Organizers say it was a prime example of the community coming together in an emergency. While up to 25 residents expressed interest in shelter, only 7 actually showed up. The Red Cross was prepared to set up at Coalbush for 3 nights, but with a lack of interest, they closed early after only one.
Now, those who need help will be offered vouchers for the Motel 6 through the weekend.
Newscenter 16 spoke with several displaced residents at the church on Friday, who claim they haven't heard from the buliding's owner in months. They also claim, it's Randy Miller, who is at fault.
"It caught us totally by surprise. He did not let us know about anything, he kept us from knowing anything," said Eric Osborn, a tenant of 10 years and the unofficial property manager. "He started to show his true colors to everybody. His lack of caring was so bad, that we had tenants that hadn't paid rent in a year, but he never evicted."
The acting maintenance person, Frederick Cleveland, also points blame at the owner. "I have a lot of anger towards Randy Miller right now," said Cleveland. "He took advantage of a lot of people here, so we'll leave it at that."
Newscenter 16 spoke briefly with Miller on the phone Friday. He says what he knows is from other sources because he doesn't live in town. Miller says he plans to have an "expert" assess the damage. In response to why he didn't arrive on-scene during the incident or the day after he said, "the key is it all happened so fast."
Miller has 30 days to respond to the condemnation in writing to the city of Mishawaka. He will also be required to appear at a condemnation hearing.