Biloxi apartments' poor condition forcing residents to leave

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - After eight months of managing and living in the A' La Plage apartment complex in Biloxi, Robert Gray is moving his family out.

"It's very unsafe to live here. It's a health hazard. Just everything. There's no electrician work being done, no plumbing work being done. There's just no kind of maintenance being done here."

Gray covered his mouth with his t-shirt trying to mask the odor inside. When we walked into the bedroom, you could see why he covered up his mouth. Thick black mold covered the entire closet.

In the kitchen, there was a collapsed ceiling. And a stray cat leaped on the table. Gray said it was probably looking for mice and rats. Just a month ago, Gray said, about 80 mice and rats were captured.

"It's horrible. It's ridiculous."

Gray said the garbage hasn't been picked up at the apartment in more than two months.

Christina Hayes said living conditions are not good, but the rent was cheap.

"It's hard. I have a daughter and not being able to provide for her like you're suppose to be able to," she said. "I don't know what to do. I really don't."

Robert Gray and his wife, Carmela Bustamante, decided the only choice was to move out.

"It's cheap and a lot of people don't have a lot of money, especially of the economy the way it is right now," Bustamante said. "People are willing to live wherever just as long as they have a place, a roof over their head, and a place to sleep."

I met with Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel.

"We had taken it to court about a year ago and had cited the owner for code violations and they agreed to go in and make the corrections," Creel stated.  "That was June of last year. In October of last year the attorney for the owner came to us and told us the property was in foreclosure."

Now, Creel said, the city can't deal with the bank until the bank takes ownership of the property. Creel went to the apartments with us. After seeing the condition, he said the residents will have to find other living arrangements.

"Of course, you can't have tenants living in a building where they don't have the basic utilities. So it will have to be vacated until a resolution is made."

Creel said the city will continue investigating, and when the tenants move out, he'll make sure the building is secured.

That's something Robert Gray said is long overdue.

"It should have been shut down years ago."

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