Some residents living in cars as Revere officials crack down on owner of condemned building – Boston 25 News

Some residents live in cars as Revere officials crack down on owner of condemned building

REVERE, Mass. — Some residents of a Revere high-rise that was condemned after a fire last month are living out of their cars as a councilman wants the city to take the blighted property by eminent domain.

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

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

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

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

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

At the time of the fire, a firefighter was on watch in the building because a fire alarm was malfunctioning, city officials said.

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

Diaz and his neighbors have tried to contact their leasing office and Connecticut-based landlord Carabetta Companies, but they have been unable to reach anyone.

“I try to call the office, but they don’t answer,” Diaz said. “I’m trying to go to the municipality for information, but the municipality says they don’t know anything, they need more information.”

Boston 25 News could not reach the Carabetta companies by phone or email.

Mayor Brian Arrigo criticized the company in a statement, demanding that Carabetta fix up the building and claiming the company had not distributed the $750 required by state law to provide each tenant with relocation benefits.

“Despite legal action against them by the city and notice requirements, the Carabetta family and their property management refuse to take any action to fix the building’s problems,” Arrigo said. “Sadly, the Carabetta family also refuse to accept responsibility for their tenants or their tenant’s legal rights. The City of Revere will not allow Carabetta to neglect their obligations to our city and its residents. We will continue to pursue every legal avenue available to hold them accountable for their failure to act.”

City Councilman at Large George Rotondo told Boston 25 News that he believes the city should try to take the property by eminent domain and use it for affordable housing, if Revere can afford it.

“It’s disgusting,” Rotondo said Monday. “I think the city should take it from eminent domain. There have been numerous issues regarding the poor maintenance of that property. Honestly, no matter how much we fine this company, I don’t think it’s 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 a lot, people are displaced,” Rotondo said. “And to be quite honest with you, in my opinion, the landlord really hasn’t done what he should have done to help the tenants who are mostly on the street.”

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

“It is unsustainable for the city to continue to cover these costs and it is legally the responsibility of the management company to provide housing,” Arrigo said.

Meanwhile, Diaz is trying to stay strong for his family, their future home uncertain.

“I don’t care if I don’t have food, but I need money to feed my family in Maryland. And I’m trying. I am fighting”, he said. Diaz. “Everyone needs help here.”

Download it The FREE Boston 25 News app for the latest news.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and I tweet. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.