Posted on January 24, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Thursday, Jan 24 at 11:47 PM
AUSTIN – At Austin City Hall Thursday evening, a diverse group of stakeholders gathered for a second public hearing to come up with a plan to help tenants ousted from their rental units without warning.
Austin Code and Compliance is getting assistance from American Red Cross of Central Texas in coming up with what they are calling an “Emergency Tenant Response Plan.”
The plan was a citizen’s idea last year, after dozens of families from the Woodridge Apartments in East Austin were left to fend for themselves when balconies began collapsing under their own weight.
Subsequent visits to the Woodridge Apartments by Austin Code and Compliance found hundreds of violations.
The City of Austin Building and Standards Commission mandated that the Woodridge Apartments owner, who lives in California, make major repairs but so far Austin Code Compliance staff says he’s only racked up $336,000 in unpaid fines.
“The current owner has not done any repairs at all, has not pulled any current permits. Basically they just stopped doing anything,” said Keith Leach with Austin Code Compliance.
Leach also told KVUE that a prospective buyer is trying to work out a deal with the Woodridge Apartments owner.
Austin Code and Compliance will continue taking the public’s suggestions on questions such as What if the owner of a property can’t or won’t help the tenants? If the City of Austin was able to offer short-term emergency shelter for tenants, what would that look like and how long is reasonable?
Code Compliance is hoping to have all suggestions compiled and delivered to the Austin City Council by February 15th.