City condemns Pascagoula apartment complex

Cites ‘theft of utilities’ and more

City condemns Pascagoula apartment complex

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Nearly two dozen people are now wondering where they can call home after an apartment complex was condemned and shut down in Pascagoula on Thursday.

It’s a worst case scenario for the tenants of Frances Street Apartments,

Pascagoula Planning, Building and Code Enforcement decided the complex on Old Mobile Avenue was unsafe and posed a health problem, electrical problems and theft of utilities.

Sign out front of Frances Street Apartments lists reasons for condemnation.
Sign out front of Frances Street Apartments lists reasons for condemnation. (WLOX)

“The city sees it the way they see it with electrical issue and what not, and I understand that," said resident Schyler Loper.

“I have 23 tenants that live here with children and they have nowhere else to go," said property manager Brittany Robinson. She’s been on the job for about a month.

“They’ve gone through and found multiple electrical violations and also the roof leaks in multiple apartments," Brittany said. She’s also a tenant, “I’m probably going to go to my mom’s temporarily until my husband and I find somewhere else to go.”

Brittany took WLOX News Now on a tour of a few units. There are 10 total units, and as of Sept. 20, 2018, two were vacant.

“No smoke detectors, no covers on the hot water heater outlets," she listed. “One of the hot water heaters caught on fire. Holes in the walls. Duct tape on the air conditioners."

A smoke detector missing a cover in one of the units at Frances Street Apartments.
A smoke detector missing a cover in one of the units at Frances Street Apartments. (WLOX)
Duct tape repairs to a hot water heater at Frances Street Apartments.
Duct tape repairs to a hot water heater at Frances Street Apartments. (WLOX)

Brittany added, “I’ve told them that I’m doing the best that I can. If they would just give me some time I’d get stuff taken care of, but I can only do so much. Now I have 23 people who have nowhere else to go.”

Code enforcement officials were out on Thursday taking photos of the back of the building. The water service is an issue. A city official said either the meters aren’t operable, or there isn’t service in each unit, but wouldn’t elaborate. The sign out front states illegal water service connection.

“As tenants move in, sometimes they take down the smoke detector. That’s a code violation," said property co-owner Bridget Hutchinson. She and her son own the complex.

Bridget said she entrusted Brittany with letting her know when the units needed work. “If it’s a smoke detector, we’ll put it back up. If it’s anything any more, she was hired to be the manager. She should have told me there was an issue," Bridget said.

We discovered the property was also condemned back in May of 2017 for issues including illegally obtaining water. Hutchinson was allowed to resume operation in April 2018 after making some electrical repairs and sorting out the water meters.

“I had an electrician come and certify it. We changed all the breakers because he said I got to do something," she said.

Most recently, tenant complaints of exposed electrical wires and not having hot or cold water led city officials back to the property.

The city said it’s up to the owner to keep the property up to code. They’ve given the residents until Friday to vacate the property. Once it’s empty, code enforcement workers will come back with the owner, do a walk through and explain what needs to be fixed in order to take in more tenants.

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