Displaced Tenants Briefly Return to Mold-Ridden Miami Apartments

Residents cannot return until the City of Miami deems the buildings safe

Willing residents of Miami's damaged, mold-ridden Civic Towers were able to pick up belongings while wearing a protective mask along with a police escort but only some have been taken to temporary housing as promised.

Tenants at the Civic Towers and Civic Towers Senior buildings, located in Allapattah near Jackson Memorial Hospital, had an opportunity to enter their residences to retrieve personal items, such as medications.

The City of Miami deemed the buildings uninhabitable earlier this week due to structural damage, which the company said was caused by Hurricane Irma. Officials most recently found mold.

The buildings, funded by federal and county tax dollars, have more than 300 units combined. The City of Miami said it is ultimately the responsiblity of the building's owner and the funding agencies to relocate the residents.

Though some residents initially left the area and sought shelter elsewhere, others did not leave the property because they did not want to abandon their belongings – choosing to camp out in the parking lot.

Officials brought in water, bathrooms and a shower to help residents during the recent uncomfortable weeks.

The Miami Police Department on Wednesday said residents who wish to enter the buildings had to wear protective gear and must be accompanied by a police escort.

While officers wore protective police equipment, the residents wore masks to prevent mold exposure provided by Redwood Housing, the California-based property management company.

The company on Wednesday said it established a plan in coordination with local and federal government officials to find residents temporary housing.

"Redwood Housing arranged with local hotels to house residents who have applied for assistance with FEMA for disaster relief, starting with 50 units immediately," the company said in a statement.

And though the company said it was still seeking to house additional residents, many have been left in the dark.

"They're not calling us, not letting us know nothing. This is ridiculous," tenant Rodolfo Diaz said.

Before Hurricane Irma, the buildings were undergoing renovations. After the storm, the power and water went out. Mold made matters worse.

The company said it hoped to complete renovations on both buildings "as soon as possible."

Until the City of Miami deems the buildings safe, residents are not allowed to return, the company said.

The Miami Heat heard about the residents' plight and on Tuesday responded to the towers to handout sandwiches to residents camped out in the parking lot.

Teresa Joseph contributed to this report.

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