Dozens of families forced to move because of building code issues at West Price Hill apartments

Posted at 5:45 PM, Apr 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-25 21:11:46-04

CINCINNATI -- In just a few weeks, Kimberly Griffith will have to put her life into boxes and start over again.

Griffith has lived at Eagle Watch, a large apartment complex off Sunset Avenue, since 2013. She receives Section 8 housing assistance to stay there; dozens of her neighbors do, too.

All 59 families just found out the complex failed to meet the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority's housing standards.

Lesley Wardlow, a CMHA spokesperson, said the city reported several building code violations. Problems included issues with the roof and plumbing lines, according to online inspection records.

Also, an entry driveway is collapsing. Griffith said it's been sliding down a hill "for a long time, and the problem is just getting worse and worse."

An entry drive is collapsing. Photo by T.J. Parker | WCPO

The city ordered the property owner, Zingenuity Eagles Watch LLC, to fix those issues. Some of that work is already underway, online records indicate.

But Griffith and others are running out of time: They learned they have to be out by the end of June. It takes four to six months to find quality, affordable housing in Cincinnati, Griffith said.

"I never expected to have to just pick everything and just leave all of a sudden," she said.

While Griffith has lived at the complex for four years, Kenneth Smith hasn't even been there four months.

"I just moved here -- I just got here in January," he said. "I spent a lot of money moving here and I hadn't expected to move, so there's not a whole lot of money saved up for another move like that."

Smith said he tried to talk to the property's owner, but the company is holding his deposit for 30 days after he moves out. The situation leaves him feeling homeless, he said. He fears he might end up on the street.

"It makes me really angry to know that you can be living somewhere, then wake up one morning and you have nowhere to live," he said.

Kimberly Griffith has lived at Eagle Watch since 2013. Photo by T.J. Parker | WCPO

Both Smith and Griffith said they'd like to see the property owner help with relocation costs, given the short timeline. Griffith said she worries for her neighbors who also have to move.

"It's hard for them to just pick everything up and just move -- nobody has the funding for that," she said. "So I think somebody should be held responsible to make sure that everyone that has to leave this property has the proper funding to find somewhere to live."

WCPO attempted to reach the property owner, Zingenuity Eagles Watch, for comment.