An apartment complex in Columbus where refugee resettlement agencies placed refugees because of low rental rates is riddled with 63 code violations. A Nepali-Bhutanese refugee who lives in a unit with his family says his unit was plagued with bedbugs last year and said he was worried about his family’s safety. Another Nepali-Bhutanese refugee said the staircases are broken and lights don’t work. Community Refugee and Immigration Services and World Relief Columbus stopped placing refugees in the complex after last year’s fire publicity, but have not evacuated the other refugees to better housing despite the extensive code violations. The units are poorly maintained, have bedbugs and roaches, leaky and defective plumbing and electrical problems, according to an inspection report. I think this case case shows the wisdom of placing refugees only according to rental unit prices while ignoring basic safety, repair and habitability issues which, by the way, are violations of the State Department refugee contracts. Will the State Department be taking any action against its refugee contractors in Columbus? I’ll believe it when I see it. An article in The Columbus Dispatch has the details of this story:
Columbus prosecutors say that a North Side apartment complex that rents to scores of refugees is riddled with code violations that owners have ignored for months.
Prosecutors filed a complaint yesterday with Franklin County Environmental Court against Summit Park Apartments. The complaint says a code-enforcement inspector has found 63 violations since September.
The inspection report said multiple units were poorly maintained, had bedbugs and roaches, leaky and defective plumbing and electrical problems…
In three inspections since November, building inspectors found wooden balconies that had deteriorated to the point that they were unsafe. The inspections also determined that concrete and steel balconies there must be evaluated and repaired…
… In August, families from Bhutan, Somalia and other countries were displaced after fire ravaged one of the buildings, at 4349 Walford St. The fire started in a fenced-in storage area that had been filled with furniture.
Fire investigators said it was arson. At least two refugee agencies, , have not placed anyone at the complex since then.
“They still had code violations that hadn’t got taken care of that got worse after the fire,” said Kay Lipovsky, office manager for World Relief Columbus.
Agencies place refugees at complexes such as Summit Park because rents are inexpensive, she said.
One resident, Yam Subba, a Bhutanese Nepali refugee who lives in a unit with his wife, their 2-year-old daughter and his mother, said his unit was plagued with bedbugs last year. Subba, 28, said he was worried about his family’s safety.
Another Bhutanese Nepali refugee, Moti Rai, who lives in a unit with his father, said the staircases are broken and lights don’t work. Still, Rai, 27, said he lived in a small hut in a refugee camp in Bhutan. “I think this is better than that.”… Read more here