A week after an emergency condemnation, many former residents of the Princess City apartments in Mishawaka are still without permanent homes.
Now, as displaced tenants wait for answers, they are considering legal action. Sheryl Gerald, a social worker, has stepped in and is assisting the Penn Township Trustee in providing answers.
"It's getting better, we're finding people homes. A few landlords have stepped up," said Gerald. "These people aren't asking for handouts, they just want to be able to move on with their lives. We're getting there, it's hard, but we're getting there."
It is still uncertain as to what will happen to the building. Former owner, Randy Miller, has 30 days from last Thursday to respond to the city in writing. But according to Mishawaka Mayor, Dave Wood, a lot needs to be done before the building can operate again. It's also unclear whether Miller even has control over the property. Sources tell Newscenter 16, Lake City Bank is in charge of decisions at this point.
Sympathy for displaced residents is clear, but Mayor Wood wouldn't make excuses for the condemnation decision.
"We feel terrible we had to make that decision, but it would have been much worse had we knew about it, let it go and a fire resulted, or god forbid, there was injury associated with this issue. While we knew it was a tough decision to make, we felt it was ultimately in the best interest of the residents there," said Mayor Wood.
And many still feel blame should be pointed at the landlord.
"I felt these people needed some legal help because they were taken advantage of, it's really wrong their money was taken, that they've lost their things, they're ill," said Gerald.
"We think it's the landlord responsible for this property and responsible for the neglect that was evident at the property and also the deplorable conditions the residents were living in," said Mayor Wood.
The acting maintenance manager for the property is also playing a major role in helping displaced residents.
"We still have a lot of tenants over at the motel. We're working on getting them placed," said Rick Cleveland, owner of Cleveland Custom LLC. "This isn't going to be a quick process. They keep being told one thing and another thing is happening. It's kind of escalating stress level and concern. People not knowing where they're going to go, they say they have a home, they don't have a home, it's building up on some of them," said Cleveland.
Many of the tenants met with Cleveland, Gerald and a lawyer Thursday night in Mishawaka. They plan to meet with attorney Johnny Ulmer of Cataldo Law Offices again next week. For now, the focus remains on finding permanent homes for displaced residents.