Emotions ran high Tuesday afternoon after residents of a condo complex in Temple Hills, Maryland, were told they would have 24 hours to vacate their homes when the fire department determined the building was unsafe.
This is the second time in the last year residents at the Lynnhill Condominiums have been forced to leave.
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Prince George's County Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale announced the building had too many code violations and residents would have to leave the property by noon on Wednesday.
As Barksdale described the assistance residents would be provided, several women in the crowd interrupted the news conference to raise their concerns.
"You say the help is out here, but they're not helping anybody. I live here. I have nowhere to go," one woman yelled.
Just last year, Lynnhill Condominiums' residents were forced to leave after the condo association failed to pay its bills and the power company shut off the lights.
“Most likely we’re gonna be in the shelter,” condo resident Passion Pleasant told News4. “We don’t have nowhere to go. I have six children, I have a newborn, I have an infant and my son has autism. And now, where we supposed to go?”
Walking through the building on Good Hope Avenue, visitors can see holes in the ceiling, trash on the floor, and elevators that haven’t worked in years. But one thing you won’t see are the necessary fire extinguishers required for buildings. Additionally, the fire department says the fire alarm system hasn’t worked in more than a year.
On Friday, firefighters taped signs to the condo doors, letting residents know if the building managers didn't fix the problems by Tuesday, everyone would have to leave.
“I mean, we do really need it fixed because what if there’s a fire and we have no alarm, so we really do need it fixed, but by Tuesday? That is really short notice for people, so how are we supposed to find living arrangements,” asked Malik Brackett, another condo resident.
“It is our goal to make sure that everybody is satisfied.”
William Johnson Jr., attorney for Lynnhill Condominiums, says they have tried to make repairs when needed, but money is tight. Most residents have moved out, and squatters have taken their place, he said.
“You cannot please all people at all times. This is a very difficult situation, so we are trying to find a solution that best fits everyone,” Johnson said.
But the families who call Lynnhill home don’t know what that solution will be.
“I can’t just pull out money like this for a U-Haul. And we can’t just say okay children, let’s go,” Pleasant said. “And then how do I explain that to my autistic child, ‘oh we have to leave once again.’”