Newark shuts down building infested with rodents, roaches and mold

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Some residents of Newark have been forced from their homes because their landlord failed to comply with a judge's ruling to make repairs on the building's squalid conditions.

The owner of 17 Stratford Place hid behind a flashlight, a hoodie and three armed guards Tuesday night to evade our questions.

We wanted to question him about why 47 families have been living in squalor and why, when a judge ordered him to fix up the place, he didn't.

Earlier those security guards had told us to leave as tenants scurried out.

The whole building was deemed by the city of Newark to be unfit for human habitation.

Last week, Eyewitness News reporter Jim Dolan exposed the horrors of this taxpayer subsidized property, ravaged by rodents, insects and mold.

One wall was literally held together by tape.

"They don't really care about us," one tenant said. "They want us to live like that. Cause they don't have to live like that."

But now, finally, the tenants don't either. After the city brought the landlord to court last week, a judge ordered him to make repairs by Monday.

He didn't, so at his expense, he has to put his tenants up in a hotel room starting Tuesday.

The city said the landlord claimed to have just purchased the building and had promised to abate the violations quickly.

But a Newark official tells Eyewitness News the only thing that has changed is the shell company on paper, and that the actual ownership hasn't changed at all.

Lynne Patton, HUD Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey, issued the following statement:

"I declared war on private slumlords in New Jersey last year. Not only did HUD fine the negligent ownership of 17-23 Stratford over half a million dollars in civil money penalties, but on November 6th, HUD forced the sale of the property to a new preservation buyer who is committed to correcting these longstanding health and safety code violations immediately. We are working closely with the mayor and city to ensure displaced residents can return to their homes as soon as possible this holiday season."

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