Senior living center residents ordered to evacuate

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's office told KHOU 11 News the seniors living at 2100 Memorial "will not be thrown out."

HOUSTON - Nearly 200 residents of a senior citizen home run by the Houston Housing Authority need to evacuate.

2100 Memorial Senior Living center flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Water filled its lobby and first floor, according to the city. A "large number" of apartments also flooded, HHA said in a statement.

Authorities believe there is mold growing inside the building. Flooding also damaged the fire alarm and electrical systems. Also, only one of the building's water pumps work.

Residents told KHOU 11 News they were given letters over the weekend demanding they clear out storage units by Tuesday or have their belongings thrown away. Letters from management also required residents sign a liability waiver.

Then, management asked residents to vacate the building by Saturday.

"Engineers and inspectors who evaluated the building recommend residents vacate the facility for health and safety reasons," HHA said in a statement.

They are still assessing damage. HHA told residents their apartments are "a health and safety concern due to several building systems being compromised and other issues identified by professional engineers and inspectors."

“That puts me in the untenable situation of telling people the building isn’t fit for you to stay here and we have to issue this notice to vacate,” Tory Gunsolley, CEO of the Houston Housing Authority.

“I almost had a heart attack (because) just the callousness,” said Joseph Kness, a resident.

“They told me you’re going to have to move out by Saturday,” said Connie Dubois, another resident. “I said, do what?”

“I was afraid,” said Gracie Garcia, a resident who lives with her 90-year-old mother. "I said, 'Where are we going to go?'”

“I have a serious heart condition and I had to start taking nitroglycerin because we thought we had just made it through that big flood,” said Calvin Mills, another resident.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's office told KHOU 11 News the seniors living there "will not be thrown out."  The city expects HHA to help seniors find housing, the mayor's office said.

“We certainly want to be very sensitive and very responsive to the needs of our seniors,” Mayor Turner said.

City councilmember Karla Cisneros told KHOU 11 News she too is working to help residents. Authorities met at noon to discuss the matter.

HHA said it already has identified "a number of other units that residents can explore as an option for relocation."

At least 35 residents use Housing Choice vouchers, given to low income families, seniors and those with disabilities to pay rent. They will be given relocation vouchers tomorrow

“We understand that losing one’s home is a painful process, and we are working to ensure our residents can quickly and safely recover,” Gunsolley said. “During this time, we will have FEMA on-site to register residents and have property management representatives available to respond to questions.”

Residents can contact HHA at (713)-260-0600.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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