Tenants living in tents after Watertown building is condemned

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 5:02 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Nearly 40 people are displaced after a Watertown apartment building was condemned by the city. There are many of them with nowhere to go.

“I woke up, I didn’t know what was going on. My eyes were red. I came out with my drawers and t-shirt on, like, ‘What is going on,’” said Daniel Hall.

Watertown’s Bureau of Code Enforcement awakened him to let him know his apartment had been condemned.

“I just went food shopping. All my food in there, going to waste.”

Watertown Fire Department was called to 661 Factory Street, referred to as “Factory Street Inn and Lodging,” for an alarm call.

Shortly after responding, the department called code enforcement to check out the building.

According to the city’s code enforcement supervisor, They found that the fire alarm system in the building was not notifying the fire department or the monitoring company when the fire alarm went off - meaning if there were a fire in the building, occupants would have to be the ones to call for help.

The fire alarm system isn’t the only issue code enforcement found with the property. They say it’s also infested with bedbugs and cockroaches, and there are plumbing and electrical hazards.

For now, tenants like Hall and A.J. Peterkin have set up camp, literally, just a few feet away.

“Everybody out here’s homeless. There’s, like, 30 people out here homeless. Some people went down by the river. Some people had different places to go. I had stay on the bench all night,” said Peterkin.

Code enforcement says the Red Cross was called, but since there wasn’t a house fire or natural disaster, there’s nothing they can do.

As for how long they’ll be displaced, code enforcement says it could be days or however long it takes for the issue to be resolved.

The person who manages the property declined comment.

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