Many Residents Of Unsafe Building Still Need Homes

By Adam Reilly

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Feb. 13, 2012

chinatown illegal building

The five-story building lacked vital support columns in the basement and had a host of other problems. (Google Street View)

 
BOSTON — Boston officials are still trying to find homes for everyone evacuated from a dangerous Chinatown rooming house last week. They met with the former residents on Monday.
 
"They're incredible people, they're very hard-working, and they're very appreciative of what the city's able to do for now," said Donald McGough, Boston's director of emergency preparedness. 
 
McGough added that while roughly 20 residents still need long-term housing, the majority have been resettled.
 
If possible, the city wants to keep the evacuees in Chinatown, where many of them have restaurant jobs. The residents who haven't found other housing have been staying in makeshift quarters at Chinatown's Josiah Quincy Elementary School. Officials said the resid
 
On February 8, Boston firefighters responded to a false alarm at 19-25 Harrison Avenue and found a structure they deemed unsafe for habitation. The five-story building lacked vital support columns in the basement and had a host of other problems, including missing fire alarms, exposed wiring and poor ventilation. About four dozen people were evacuated on the spot, and the city subsequently cited the building's owners, Alexander and Julie Szeto of Southborough, Mass., for a bevy of violations.

The incident highlighted the limits of Boston's inspection system for residential buildings, which is driven by complaints from tenants. But State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) said that, given Boston's infrastructure, a more proactive approach would be difficult to implement. 
 
"We're an old city," said Michlewitz, who represents Chinatown and attended the meeting. "We have some old structures, especially around the district I represent. In lots of downtown Boston, there are a lot of old buildings around – so I don't know what the best solution is to solving that potential issue."


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