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Pajaro families move out after an apartment complex deemed unfit to live in

PAJARO, Calif. (KION -TV) UPDATE ON DEC. 1, 2023 AT 5:55 PM- Friday was the day families living at 29 San Juan Rd in Pajaro had to move out and call another place their home. 

Families were packing things away Friday afternoon. Monique Gonnzales, whose aunt lived at the apartment complex, said she was worried about her family.

"It's a sad time," said Gonnzales. "We're close to the holidays and it's not joyful, everybody is losing their homes."

The county tells KION the property owner was given multiple extensions to make adjustments to some of the apartment units to allow people to continue living in them.

Including a recent extension lasting through January 7, 2024.

KION previously reported the owner opted to evict everyone instead of making those changes.

People living there also claimed the owner did not explain what the situation was, instead leaving them to find another place to live.

And for Gonnzales aunt, Maria de Rocio Morando Flores, who has 3 kids said finding another home is going to be stressful.

"What we want right now is to find a home, because, honestly, right now, we don't have a home." said Flores. 

At the apartment complex, there is a red tagged sign from the County of Monterey, that said the structure has been inspected and damaged, and unsafe to occupy people.

And for people like Gonnzales, she said her main priority is helping out her aunt's family.

"Letting them stay over as long as they need, until they get back on their feet." said Gonnzales. 

The families had to move out by 3 p.m., December 1st. KION also reached out to the property owner, but we have yet to hear back.

Eviction delayed for Pajaro families struggling to find housing after apartment deemed unfit to live in

Monterey County said they have given an extension to the property owner to address the violations until January 7th.

More than 20 families living along San Juan Road in the Pajaro area are still in limbo after the county deemed at an apartment complex unsafe to live in.

The move out date was pushed from Monday to Nov. 28th. The County of Monterey said that they red tagged one apartment within the complex that was deemed unsafe.

Furniture, appliances, and toys could be seen outside of homes on San Juan Road.

The owners of the items say they do not have space to take them to wherever they're moving next.

But not being able to take the items are the least of their worries

"I already have a place to live with my kids put its not until December 1st," said Araceli Tellez lives in Parajo.

Tenants are receiving some support from a $50,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Monterey County.

They say this will help tenants pay for housing elsewhere until the end of December.

But the work does not stop there and other agencies like Community Bridges are stepping in.

"Making sure that all of the tenants here are understanding of the situation. That's, you know, continuing to go on and seeing if they need any other recourse resources available that we have for them," said Tony Nunez with Community Bridges.

People living at the property say it is home to elderly people and children with special needs, and they have had a hard time applying to housing because of the high cost of living.

Housing inspection leads to more than 16 families losing their homes in Pajaro

PAJARO, Calif. (KION-TV)- Families in Pajaro are desperately looking for a home after an inspection by Monterey County determined that the apartment complex where they lived, did not comply with safe housing codes.

Residents who live at the property only have a couple of weeks to vacate the property.  

In an interview with KION, about 20 families spoke of their concern, as the owner of the apartments has requested that all families vacate no later than Nov. 20. 

This decision was prompted by a notice of violation filed by Monterey County. In late September, a report of unhealthy housing alerted the county and immediately, an inspection was conducted at a property located at 29 San Juan Road

After the inspection, only one house was red-tagged, ordering the residents to vacate immediately, as the deplorable conditions were unsanitary.  

Shortly after this notice, the rest of the residents said they had received an eviction order.

"When we saw the notice in our door, we filled with sadness," said Blanca Garcia, who lives at 29 San Juan Road. "It was the first thing that comes to us and now what are we going to do, the world closes on you."

Residents say that the property is home to elderly people and children with special needs and that it has not been easy to apply for new housing. 

Marco Rodriguez, who lives at the apartments, says he felt ignored by not receiving a quick response from the owner, who only ordered the eviction, but did not explain the situation to each resident or options they had. 

"We have been told that we have to vacate by November 20, or December 20 at the latest, we don't know the reason, no one has approached us to say this is the reason," Rodriguez said "But the owner sent us a message and told us that we had thought about his proposal." 

The Núñez family, owners of the property, stated that they have offered up to three months of subsidy for families to find housing, but the offer only applies to those who agree to leave on Nov. 20. 

But why was it necessary to evict so many families?

Monterey County discovered that five legally constructed buildings, formerly offices or other warehouses, were modified without permits to convert them into small dwellings.

The Department of Housing and Community Development confirmed this in their inspection and reported that 3 units had been converted into duplexes, while 2 units were divided into as many as 4 apartments. 

Craig Spencer, who is the Director for the Department of Housing and Community Development, says that the split buildings should have gone through a review system, and now the owner will have to comply with the requirements imposed by the permitting department.

Spencer also said that there would have to be some level of approval and planning. Also, potentially, making any improvements to bring it into compliance with the housing code. 

However, negotiations with the owner did not turn out favorably for the families.  

These unpermitted alterations violated the housing code. According to the county, there is a lack of ventilation, heating, windows, lack of alarms, and have created spaces for an insect infestation. 

Some families disagree with being rated based on the healthiness of one apartment, and say that unit does not reflect the condition of the other units.  

"I think we all want the same thing, that it can be repaired by units, they don't have to knock down everything at once, so you don't have to evict all 16 families," Rodriguez said.

The Nunez family and Rose Rentals LLC, responded to Telemundo and KION through a statement in which they say they have done their best to comply with the county's mandate, but their plans have changed. 

"The Nunez family was deeply saddened by the impact the county's notice would have on the families at 29 San Juan Rd. After a thorough review with county officials, it was determined that the only path forward for the property is a new development that does not include residential housing."

Statement disclosed by Bryan Williams Attorney, Representing The Nunez Family.

The families now say they are facing a challenge finding housing they can afford, as they say it won't be easy in this economy. 

"The rents are $3,000 and up, and if you get a $1,000 it's a quarter, the rents are very expensive, and the requirements are impossible to meet," said Blanca Garcia.  

Residents like Blanca and Lizbeth Garcia called on non-profit organizations to help families who have not qualified for affordable housing.

Some have been turned down because of immigration status, others are turned down because of the number of family members, and in some cases, the renters do not allow children in their properties.

Monterey County amended the notice of violation on Tuesday, and an agreement was reached to extend the residents' stay in 11 units, while the property owner has until Dec. 7 to correct the violations.

County officials said that The Nunez Family until this time will be required to pay $900 in administrative fees, plus a $1,000 per day fine if he fails to amend the violations after Dec. 10. 

For more housing resources, Monterey County offers information through organizations and programs for qualifying families.

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Sandra Iveth Santos

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Periodista Multimèdia Bilingüe en Telemundo 23 Costa Central

Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.

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