Friday, October 03, 2014

405 Manchester St.

Mark Hayward's latest story on the continuing saga at 405 Manchester St. appears in today's Union Leader. Some highlights:

Manchester Water Works said Thursday it restored water service to a problem-plagued apartment house at 405 Manchester St., only to discover that someone had stolen copper pipes from the building.
No pipes means no water - and this comes AFTER the tenants had made a downpayment on the water bill. A bill that was not paid by the landlord. Water was included in their rent. Now some of the tenants are buying new pipe and hoping to get the water on today. 
However, the city may close the property sooner. Community Development Commissioner Leon LaFreniere said city lawyers are working with Schaefer’s local attorney to go to court and ask a judge to secure the property.
The City would like this story to go away, as quickly as possible. The City does not want to have a big discussion about deteriorating buildings, the need for new housing codes and more stringent enforcement. 
Paul Schaefer, the disappearing landlord, bought 405 Manchester St. in October 2005. In November 2005, he was issued a Certificate of Compliance. That CoC was revoked on July 20, 2006 because of fire alarm system failure. It was reinstated shortly afterward. That same CoC expired on September 22, 2008. The next CoC was issued on June 2, 2011. It took nearly 3 years for Schaefer to "fix" the 95 violations cited by the housing inspectors.  

The violations included water stained ceilings and water damaged floors in many of the apartments. The ceilings and floors may have been fixed - but nowhere was there any mention of fixing the actual leaks. Leaking pipes in an old wooden building are going to cause ongoing deterioration, as well as providing a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, rodents, and insect infestation. 

It seems there is no real enforced time limit for making the necessary repairs, even though the building isn't supposed to be rented out without a CoC in place. The code enforcement department is woefully understaffed and underfunded. Lowell, MA has 11 housing inspectors. Manchester currently has 4. 

The people living at 405 are living in a terrible situation. The building is a mess. One man's windows blow out if the wind blows too hard. He has to tape them to the frame from the inside. There are a number of broken windows in the building. The place is infested with bedbugs, the mailboxes don't lock, doors don't close properly, and the yard is full of trash. 

Given the precarious legal position these folks are in, and with the City desperate to close this place down, I worry that they may make an investment in the building and still wind up out on the street. 

This is no way for people to be living. Not in the 21st century in the wealthiest country in the world. 

previous coverage:


Anonymous said...

21st Century indeed. This is more like the era of the Industrial Revolution. We have to wonder WHY it is that all elected legislatures and employees of the state have never ever bothered seeing to it that ALL laws are updated, all codes are updated, all rules and regulations are current and enforceable. Of course I live in a fantasy. An utter disgrace, but then so many things which we are experiencing are.

Anonymous said...

The bank Is full of crap too. They neglected everyone here. They refused to fix any problems while tenants still live here. There is garbage all over the front of the bldg. The place is infested with bedbugs and there are rodents in the bldg. They gave everyone a certain time frame to move out in order to receive a payment to help move. Most who lived here are addicts. They took the money and left with no real place to go and now many are homeless. I am still here with four children. I could not find an apartment descent enough for my children within their time frame so now they refuse to offer any payment after I already put down a payment on a place. Now I am stuck without finances to finish moving and am scared that my children and I will eventually be homeless as well!!! This is unjust!!!

susanthe said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you're stuck in that building. Please call Sarah Jane from Granite State Organizing Project at 603-668-8250.