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Judge Rules City Can Raze Tornado Damaged Homes

spfld housingSPRINGFIELD (WGGB) — After a long 2 year battle,  judge recently gave permission for the demolition of tornado-damaged homes here in Springfield.

For the people who lived there — and owned the co-op properties — they feel  removing the buildings is the wrong thing to do even though the dilapidated apartments have clearly seen better days.

The buildings include 26 condemned units of a larger 90 unit housing development called Hill Homes – damaged in the June 2011 tornado.

Rhonda Sherrell used to live in one.

“I’m a resident who was displaced due to the negligence of our managing agent. I lived there. I know my two neighbors here. The neighbors here grew up. They lived here like 35 years,” she said.

Sherrell is upset because after 2 years of legal wrangling – a housing court judge just ruled the city could raze them if the property manager – APG – does not.

And according to the city, APG is now ready to do just that.

My understanding is they have hired a property manager APG and APG is going to be overseeing the demolition,” said Associate City Solicitor Lisa DeSousa.

But residents say the building wouldn’t have to be demolished in the first place if  it had been fixed right after the tornado.

From the city’s standpoint the issue is moot.

The buildings have not been rehabbed – just the opposite, they sit abandoned to the elements and looting, and now pose a hazard.

And even though the property is a co-op – the mortgage is held by HUD, and HUD wants them to come down too.

The government agency may also foreclose on the property, a double whammy for those resident who’ve not just lost their homes but now risk losing their equity.

“When you invest in something for 38 years and like I said what you were told and bought into – why not. Why should it be pulled right out from under you like that?” asked Sherrell.

The city has given the Hill Homes Cooperative a deadline of September 13th to demolish the damaged buildings.

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