The city of Dayton has issued an order to vacate a downtown apartment building containing almost 50 residents after its owners failed to fix a malfunctioning heating system, making the building unsafe to live in, city officials said.
Officials say they will board up the Newcom Building at 255 N. Main St. on Tuesday unless the heating system is repaired.
All residents would be required to relocate.
The boiler was shut off after fire crews earlier this month discovered high levels of carbon monoxide in the building, which can lead to deadly poisoning.
“Ensuring that our citizens are safe is of the utmost importance,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein in a statement. “If we find conditions that are hazardous and that put lives at risk, the only recourse we have is to vacate the building for the residents’ safety.”
But Newcom Building Co. President Howard Heck said three days is not nearly enough time to repair the boiler since it is old and its parts are not easy to get.
The boiler could take a couple of weeks to repair “unless there is a miracle and the center sections would be available, in stock that can be overnighted,” he said.
Some residents say it’s unreasonable that they will have to find some place to move to when it’s perfectly safe and warm in their apartments.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Bradley Brumit, who lives in the building. “No one wants to leave because they ain’t got no place to go. … We’d have to be Houdini to find somebody to give us a place to move.”
On Thursday, the city issued the owners and residents of the Newcom building an emergency vacate order.
The city’s housing inspection department said conditions inside the building are dangerous because the heating system is not working properly.
The city told residents that they need to make arrangements to find housing by Tuesday. There are about 25 apartments in the building. Many residents are elderly and low-income.
The city discovered building code violations at the Newcom building after crews responded to an emergency medical run on Jan. 4.
Fire crews found high levels of carbon monoxide related to a malfunctioning boiler as well as other deficiencies.
City officials said they gave the building owner seven days to fix the problems.
The building had multiple electrical hazards and an improperly functioning fire alarm that created dangerous conditions and required intervention, said Dayton Assistant Fire Chief Nicholas Hosford.
But now from a fire safety standpoint, the building no longer has any immediate fire hazards, Hosford said. However, it does not have heat, which means its not compliant with code.
Heck said the boiler would cost $40,000 to replace, which he cannot afford to do. He said he’s called multiple companies trying to get it repaired or rebuilt, but that likely will take time.
“I’m willing to work to get this done, but it’s just like if you have a car and need the parts but OK they have to come down from Chicago or Detroit or Kansas City, you just can’t do it” immediately, he said. “The timeline of three days, especially over a holiday weekend, is unreasonable.”
The building has a double layer of brick, and even when the temperature dropped below zero, it is not freezing cold in the apartments, Brumit said.
The gas in the building is on so residents can take showers, cook food and wash clothing, residents said.
“They act like being in here when it’s cold is worse than being homeless,” he said.
The city said residents can access their rooms and the property until Tuesday.
The order cannot be lifted unless a state inspector re-certifies the boiler, which requires it to be repaired or replaced, officials said.
The city has worked with Montgomery County Emergency Management and some social service agencies to assist residents in finding a place to go and move and accessing other services.