Dangerous conditions could evict 60 families from St. Paul apartments

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About 60 families in St. Paul might be forced out of their apartments next month because of dangerous living conditions.

City officials say the scope of the problems and the number of potentially displaced tenants are especially troubling.

City inspectors cited nearly 600 code violations in two rental buildings near Interstate 35E and Maryland Avenue, such as missing sinks, a gas leak and an infestation of mice and cockroaches.

"It's not safe, it's not sanitary, it's not healthy," said City Council member Lee Helgen. "We don't want to kick people out, but at the same time, we're not going to tolerate these kinds of conditions."

Reports of drug deals and prostitution are common. Since 2000, police have received more than 700 calls involving just one of the buildings.

City officials say part of the problem is that the landlord, Peggy Chun, is failing to screen her tenants. Some of the renters are immigrants who are afraid to report the problems.

Marcia Moermond, the city's legislative hearing officer, said the city will revoke the buildings' certificates of occupancy Jan. 18th if the problems aren't resolved.

"The city's concern ongoing is when you write up all these violations and you have this history of this owner not taking responsibility, you can allow the conditions to continue to exist," Moermond said. "What's going to need to happen to keep that building from being vacated at that time is for someone to step forward and take responsibility for doing those repairs."

Moermond said the properties are in foreclosure. A hearing next week will determine whether the bank, Wells Fargo, can appoint a receiver.

The current owner Randall Chun, a legislative analyst in the House Research department, wouldn't comment. He deferred questions to his wife, Peggy, who did not return a call seeking comment.