Fitchburg: Approximately 40 people are officially homeless after the City of Fitchburg kicked them out and boarded up their apartment buildings Thursday morning.
The condemnation notice said residents needed to be out by 10 a.m., so when Fitchburg city workers shut off the water, many people were waiting outside with their possessions, not knowing what they would do next.
"We are officially homeless now," says one woman.
Two days earlier Fitchburg Building Inspector John Crook declared the two buildings in the Allied Drive neighborhood uninhabitable.
"I've worked for the City of Fitchburg for 20 years. These are the most deplorable conditions you've ever seen," says Crook.
They condemned the buildings because the ownership group of Roxanne LLC ignored a year's worth of warnings and violations.
"Basically, the landlords have abandoned this property," says Crook.
Roxanne LLC was unavailable for comment.
Residents showed us standing water, leaky ceilings, broken appliances and holes in the walls. Few disagreed the buildings were in bad shape, but residents wanted to know why they didn't get more time to move out.
"Now they didn't give us enough notice at all, less than 48 hours," complained resident Edward Windrom.
"We felt that if we gave them more than a short window one of these buildings might have burnt down," explained Crook.
A bus showed up at noon to take people to the Salvation Army.
"They're going to give us vouchers to stay in a hotel. That's only for the weekend, then after the weekend I still don't have no where to go," says Windrom.
The boards are going up on the windows, but that doesn't mean the residents are permanently barred from the building. They'll be able to get back in to get the rest of their stuff starting next week.
"These doors are going to be padlocked. If they need to get their stuff out we will allow them entry to get their stuff out," says Crook.
Community Social Worker Rita Adair says most people will start looking for apartments after the holiday weekend.
"After Tuesday I think my office will be crazy on Tuesday."
The owners of the buildings have 45 days to make the necessary repairs or the city can bulldoze the apartments.