Dozens of residences condemned in Swanson Homes section of Portsmouth

Liz Kilmer/WAVY Photos
Liz Kilmer/WAVY Photos

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Problems continue to pile up for some residents in the Swanson Homes community.

On Friday, 32 families found “condemned” signs on their front doors. The action comes after the residents had no heat or hot water for the weeks following Hurricane Matthew.

“Hell. That’s what it’s been,” said Duntoris Jordan. “Spending a lot of money… and it’s just been hell.”

10 On Your Side spoke to Jordan and several other residents as they scrambled to pack up their belongings and take them to a hotel room provided earlier in the week by the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

PRHA’s Interim Executive Director Donnell Brown told 10 On Your Side Wednesday that the residents could stay in hotels until their homes were back up and running. But now that the properties have been condemned, residents are worried they’ll eventually end up homeless.

“I have nowhere to go. This is it, this is all I have, that’s it. If this is gone, then basically me and my children are back on the street,” said a resident and mother of four named Rahjawn.

Rahjawn’s mother, Dionne Bazemore, said an inspections worker came to the home around noon and explained that the family had until the end of the day to pack up their things.

“Right now they got us [at the hotel] for a week. We get out on the [November] 2nd, but since ya’ll condemn the house, then after the 2nd, what? Then what am I supposed to do?” Rahjawn asked.

Help on the way for Swanson Homes residents, but could more have been done?

“They’re not telling us what they’re gonna do after with this hotel,” said Jordan. “The hotel’s not even sufficient.”

Jordan said his family isn’t able to cook inside the hotel room, and with a small fridge, they can hardly store food. His kids’ school bus won’t come there to pick them up.

“Basically, they’re just throwing us to the wolves and ain’t telling us nothing,” he said.

Jordan told 10 On Your Side that his family paid their rent two days ago. His girlfriend, Brittany Grimes, tried to get the money back from the rental office on Friday. Grimes said an employee there told her reimbursement wasn’t possible, because the unit was occupied.

“We weren’t here. We weren’t in the space, and when we were here, we were flooded in with no heat, no water, no food, no nothing,” Grimes said. “Why are we paying rent? And if we did, why can’t we get our money back?”

Some residents told 10 On Your Side that they’re concerned over their home’s security while the properties are condemned.

“Is my stuff safe? Or not? I don’t know,” Rahjawn said.

She’s trying to look on the bright side for now.

“As long as my children have somewhere safe to lay their head, somewhere where it’s not cold then… as a mother, that’s all you can wish or want.”

10 On Your Side called and emailed the PRHA Friday to ask what the future holds for the residents. No one responded.

The director of the inspections department also failed to return calls. On Thursday, he told 10 On Your Side that PRHA still had not provided enough of a plan as to how the residences will be made livable.