Some residents living in cars as Revere officials urge owner of doomed building – Boston 25 News

Some residents living in cars as Revere officials urge owner of doomed building

REVERE, Mass. – Some residents of a Revere high-rise that was condemned after a fire last month live off their cars, as a councilman wants the city to take the trouble-plagued property by eminent domain.

Joseph Diaz, an Uber driver and resident of the 14th floor of the Water’s Edge Apartments, waited for his next fare on Monday afternoon in the car where he now lives.

Diaz’s wife and 12-year-old son are staying in Maryland with friends as he tries to pay the bills and find their future home. Diaz, who cannot afford a long-term hotel stay or apartment lease, said he has friends who are also forced to sleep in their cars.

“When it happened here, it really changed my life and broke my heart,” Diaz said. “My child thinks it’s the holidays. Take a vacation to Maryland. My child is happy, but he doesn’t know.

The fire, believed to have been started by a cigarette in the Ocean Avenue apartment building, caused fire, smoke and water damage to multiple floors.

When inspection services and health department employees returned to the building, they found tenants still living there without power or water, and they discovered pre-existing mold and fire code issues, among other issues, according to the city.

At the time of the fire, a firefighter was on duty in the building because a fire alarm was not working, city officials said.

The city deemed the building “unsuitable for human habitation, displacing 82 residents.”

Diaz and her neighbors tried to contact their rental office and Connecticut-based owner Carabetta Companies, but couldn’t reach anyone.

“I try to call the office, but they don’t answer,” Diaz said. “I try to get information from the town hall, but the town hall says they don’t know anything, they need more information.”

Boston 25 News was unable to reach Carabetta Companies by phone or email.

Mayor Brian Arrigo lambasted the company in a statement, demanding that Carabetta bring the building up to code and saying the company failed to distribute the $750 required by state law to provide each tenant with relocation benefits .

“Despite legal action against them from the city and formal notices, the Carabetta family and its property management refuse to take action to resolve the issues with the building,” Arrigo said. “Unfortunately, the Carabetta family also refuses to recognize the responsibility of their tenants or the legal rights of their tenants. The Town of Revere will not allow Carabetta to neglect its obligations to our town and its people. We will continue to pursue all available legal options to hold them accountable for their inaction. »

Alderman-at-large George Rotondo told Boston 25 News that he thinks the city should try to take the eminent domain property and use it for affordable housing, if Revere can afford it.

“It’s an abomination,” Rotondo said Monday. “I think the city should take it by eminent domain. There have been a plethora of issues regarding the poor maintenance of this property. Quite frankly, no matter how much we fine this company, I feel like it’s not enough.

Since 2004, the city has fined Carabetta companies 70 times. The company owes the city more than $1 million, Arrigo said in the statement.

“People there are suffering way too much, people have been displaced,” Rotondo said. “And to be completely honest with you, in my opinion the landlord really hasn’t done what he should be doing to help tenants who are basically on the street.”

The mayor’s office said it was ‘focused on relocating residents, food assistance and the well-being of the most vulnerable people who have been displaced’, but said ultimately it was the owner’s duty to find a long-term option.

“It is not viable for the City to continue to cover these costs, and it is the legal responsibility of the management company to provide housing,” Arrigo said.

Meanwhile, Diaz tries to stay strong for her family, their uncertain future home.

“I don’t mind if I don’t have food, but I need money to feed my family in Maryland. And I try. I fight,” said. Diaz. “Everyone needs help here.”

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