BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Fourteen families in Florida had less than 12 hours to pack up all their things and figure out where to go — all this happening just three days before Christmas.
At 8 a.m. Thursday, sheriff’s deputies told the roughly 40 residents, making up 14 families, who live in the apartment they had to get out by 6 p.m. after a building inspector deemed the building dangerous, the Palm Beach Post reported.
“This year isn’t about Christmas. It’s about finding a place to stay,” said Florina Louis, who was at the apartments helping her godchild’s mother move out.
County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said she is trying to figure out why this happened so suddenly.
And it seems like it may not have had to be so sudden. A resident told the Palm Beach Post the landlord had a 90-day notice but didn’t warn them.
“It’s heart-wrenching,” he said.
McKinlay stressed it isn’t an eviction; rather, people must leave because the building was deemed unsafe. She said the owner hadn’t been taking care of it.
She said many apartments didn’t have running water, and residents said only half the building had electricity.
The city is helping residents move to a motel to live temporarily. Others are staying with relatives for the time being.
Many of the building’s residents may have trouble finding new housing they can afford. Louis said many of the residents were struggling to pay the rent there, and many places in the area are more expensive.
Some residents already paid their rent and so are now out of a place to stay and out of money.
Jean Oles, who had lived there for four years, said the landlord shouldn’t get away with this.
“This is wrong,” he said.