Fifteen residents displaced after inspection reveals sub-standard conditions

The apartment buildings at 212 and 220 E. Jackson St. in Centerville were locked down by Centerville officials. (Chris Arbino/KTVO)

Over the past year and a half, the city of Centerville has made an emphasis on increasing rental inspections across the city.

“In February, I believe, of last year, the city council said they wanted to take an increased emphasis on rental inspections,” said Centerville City Administrator Jason Fraser.

Last Friday at 9:30 a.m., the city’s building inspector and fire inspector walked through two apartment buildings owned by Bob Hubbard at 212 and 220 East Jackson St.

Their investigation revealed sub-standard living conditions.

“Exposed wiring, improperly wired outlets, flammable materials stored in the basement in an area that was next to a furnace," Fraser explained. "There were inappropriate egresses. There was one resident that at night, his room door was chained shut with him inside of it without the ability to leave. That was also the locker room for the tools of the building.”

Residents living in make-shift area’s around the building were not uncommon, where rent was near $100 to $150 per month.

“I guess 15 people living across a total of they were registered for 9 apartments but they were living in 15 different spaces or 14 different spaces,” Fraser continued.

That prompted Centerville’s Building Official Frank Belloma to issue an emergency order to immediately vacate all residents from the premises, forcing everyone out by 5:00 p.m. that same day.

Centerville police and city officials then began looking for places for the now homeless tenants to stay.

Most said they were able to find family and friends to live within the time being.

City officials also contacted Jeremy McElvain, who is the pastor at First Lutheran Church.

“What we do is basically kind of help people in a crisis situation, but we aren’t we have funds to help like put people up in hotels, but we don’t have funds to, or don’t have the resources to actually put people up in new apartments,” said McElvain.

He also hopes those who said they found other places to live haven’t resorted to living in cars.

“The Presbyterian youth pastor went out and was kind of scouring around, searching around for people living in their cars, so we’ve been keeping our eyes out to see whats going on in the community,” McElvain said.

City Administrator Jason Fraser said the tenants would not be able to move back into the apartments until all issues are addressed on the emergency order.

If you’d like to donate to First Lutheran Church, you can address a check to Common Ground and mail it to First Lutheran Church, 410 E Sheridan Ave, Centerville, Iowa.

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