13WHAM investigation prompts landlord to fix heat for tenants

An apartment building on Dewey Avenue was condemned by city of Rochester for code violations in dangerously cold weather (WHAM PHOTO)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- One day after a 13WHAM investigation, heat has been restored to an apartment building owned by Rochester Asset Management.

Karl McPherson has been living with three space heaters in his living room. It's been a saving grace for the last seven days without heat in his building.

"The only thing I could do is shake my head," McPherson said.

At 10:00 a.m. Friday, McPherson said the heat was fully restored.

The City of Rochester had condemned earlier this week. The city says it posted a notice to vacate and notified tenants the building was not safe, but noted it cannot force residents to leave. The city said it offered assistance to tenants looking for alternate housing.

McPherson doesn't have that option.

"You can't just pack up and bounce out of here like that," McPherson said. "It doesn't work like that."

Rochester Asset Management owns that building at 960 Dewey Avenue, and another without heat a few blocks away. 13WHAM has tried reaching the company for two days, but representatives have yet to answer phone calls.

"Our first interest is to make sure people are safe," said Gary Kirkmire, Director of Buildings and Zoning for the City of Rochester.

Kirkmire adds that the company will continue to rack up fines and violations, and the city will keep condemning buildings until the problems are fixed.

"They have several violations. I can't speak on what the owners' intent is, because they've been pretty non-respondent in this scenario," Kirkmire adds.

Attorney John Nacca says, in addition to alerting city officials, tenants have a few options when dealing with a possible landlord dispute.

"You can contact the heating company and get it fixed yourself, then deal with the landlord later," Nacca said. "The other alternative is to basically move."

A local tenant union was out knocking on doors Friday afternoon, offering resources for neighbors forced out. 13WHAM is told they are joining a push in legislation to add a city housing court, similar to a court established in the city of Buffalo.

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