City working with displaced residents of 'unsafe' apartment building to find accommodations

Riverplace Residence - Monday July 12, 2021 (Alana Hadadean / CTV News)

City of Windsor staff and support agencies say they are helping displaced residents find accommodations as they are forced to vacate their apartment building.

A Prohibition of Occupancy order at Riverplace Residence at 245 Detroit St. will go into effect Tuesday night due to unsafe conditions, which means all residents must vacate the building before midnight.

City officials say staff from a number of departments, outreach workers from Family Services Windsor-Essex, Welcome Centre Shelter staff, and other local agencies have been on site daily, meeting one-on-one with residents, assessing their needs, helping with alternative housing placements, and directing some to the Homelessness and Housing Help Hub (H4) for housing-search assistance and other services.

“We continue to offer individualized supports to the tenants of 245 Detroit Street in several different areas,” says Debbie Cercone, executive director, housing, homelessness and children’s Services. “This includes not only finding alternative accommodations for those who have been displaced, but also providing information on other services they are able to access to provide resources for daily needs.”

An Unsafe Order was issued July 8, 2021, due to the lack of life safety systems, working fire alarms, functioning heating and ventilation systems, and a potable water distribution system to the entire building.

Michael Thiele, the lawyer representing the property owner, says the owner will be assessing the property as soon as it is vacant and will follow directives from the city’s deputy chief building official to ensure public safety.

The Ontario Building Code Act is a Provincial Act that obligates the Chief Building Official to take all necessary action to ensure public safety with regards to both residential and commercial structures.

The Prohibition of Occupancy order also requires the building owners to properly secure the building and ensure measures are put in place to prevent access.

“We have been in contact continuously with the owners on this property since the Unsafe Order was issued,” said chief building official John Revell. “With the building scheduled to be unoccupied, it’s our hope we can begin to work with the owners to make plans for the future.”

While some tenants have found new accommodations on their own, the city and community agencies continue to support those still requiring help.

As the building has been ordered closed and secured, tenants in need of additional assistance should attend the Homelessness and Housing Help Hub (H4) at 400 Wyandotte St. E. Services are currently available seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.