Emergency shelter set up for apartment residents without proper heat, electricity

A boarded-up window at the apartment building on 1616 Ouellette Ave. Residents of the building say the boiler that heats the building has been broken for some time. (TJ Dhir/CBC - image credit)
A boarded-up window at the apartment building on 1616 Ouellette Ave. Residents of the building say the boiler that heats the building has been broken for some time. (TJ Dhir/CBC - image credit)

The City of Windsor and the Red Cross set up an emergency shelter Tuesday for residents of 1616 Ouellette Ave. after officials ordered that the apartment building be evacuated for safety reasons.

When Jerrod Lefler found out he had to leave his apartment with just a few hours' notice, he was shocked.

"I don't think it's fair," he said. "I have dogs. I'm on disability. I don't have any place to go."

The 120-unit building has been without proper heat for "some time" due to a boiler issue, according to the city. Electricity has also been unstable.

"Since September there hasn't been any heat, there hasn't been any hot water — it comes and it goes but [it's] mostly cold," said resident Roy Campbell.

Campbell said for him the situation has been a headache — "and now today we get this short notice to move."

TJ Dhir/CBC
TJ Dhir/CBC

Anyone who cannot stay with friends or family is able to access accommodations at the city's John Atkinson Memorial Community Centre. Programming has been cancelled in the meantime. Upwards of 60 residents of are expected at the shelter.

Another resident who spoke with CBC News was also not pleased about having to leave his apartment for the shelter.

"I have to figure out how to get to work," said John Graham. "How am I going to do that from where this centre is? That's a big problem for me."

Donna Girard of the Canadian Red Cross said her team received a call about the need for shelter around noon Tuesday and it was set up within hours.

Contractors have been called in to assess how long repairs to the privately owned building could take, according to the city, but so far there's no timeline for when residents could return.

"It's very difficult for people to stay on a cot...they're only so wide and it is a congregate sheltering system. We'd like to see people on them no longer than a two-week period, but we just don't know," said Girard, the community services coordinator for the Canadian Red Cross emergency management program.

Jason Viau/CBC
Jason Viau/CBC

In addition to warm shelter, people will have access to three meals each day.

Girard said she's not expecting any children to stay at the city's centre. Any pets are being cared for by the Windsor Essex County Humane Society while residents are displaced.

TJ Dhir/CBC
TJ Dhir/CBC

Ward 3 councillor Renaldo Agostino said that the building is under new ownership and the owners were trying to get the problems solved as soon as possible.

"They just took over the building and they're going to try and get the problems fixed, and I know that because they're trying to do that right now," he said. "Hopefully things get taken care of soon."

CBC News has attempted to reach out to the owners of the building. One of them is currently out of the country and representatives from her office declined to comment.