LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Dozens of residents under orders to vacate a building in South Los Angeles that has been deemed unsafe were granted a two-week extension Friday.

Tenants at a commercial building located at 5700 South Hoover Street say they complained about the deteriorating building to city officials six months ago, citing moldy conditions, water damage from a leaky water heater, and thefts due to broken window locks.

Yolanda Smith and her husband have lived in one of the apartments for 11 months. They paid $650/month for one room with shared kitchen and bathroom privileges with other tenants in the nine-room building.

“Since we’ve been here, it has been complete chaos,” Smith said. “We had a water drip….then two or three days later…pouring. I’ve been sick in the hospital from the smell.”

Smith said she’s been forced to use one sink for everything.

“We don’t use our sink. It’s been stopped up. They know about it. We have to take the dishes and wash the dishes in that bathroom sink, which is coming from the wall, which is the same sink we wash our face and brush our teeth in,” she said.

Officials with the city’s Housing Department determined that 13 of an estimated 42 tenants living in the converted commercial building were eligible for relocation benefits and can be moved to temporary housing, a city attorney said.

The structure located at Hoover and 57th streets had served as a medical building more than a decade ago, but since then, its office spaces and examination rooms have been used as residential spaces, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A Los Angeles Fire Department order dated March 20 citing “unsafe buildings” and “structural hazards” said residents had to be out by Friday, but the order was not posted at the building until March 27, a legal services group that has been assisting the displaced residents told The Times.

According to the Inner City Law Center, some apartments in the building were windowless, others were already boarded up and only three working showers served its residents.

“Not only did we have substandard conditions, but we had live, threatening conditions,” Francisco Covarrubias, the director of tenant organizing for the Inner City Law Center, said. “The building does not have proper windows so that tenants can escape in case of fire, no smoke detectors, gas-powered appliances that aren’t permitted correctly.”

A fire spokesman said the building was being checked hourly to make sure there were no hazards.

KCAL9’s Amy Johnson’s calls to the building owner were not returned.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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