A Napa family of seven is living in a shelter after their rental was deemed uninhabitable earlier this month.
Napa Code Enforcement has issued a compliance order to the property owner, including a laundry list of problems with the home on the 1300 block of Brown Street.
Inspectors found lack of heating, excessive moisture and mold throughout, accumulation of solid waste around the exterior of the building, dry rot, missing electrical plates, rodent infestation and other issues.
They also inspected another rental on the property and ordered fixes to its illegal basement bathroom, missing or broken windows, and heating and air conditioning without permits, according to the order.
The property owner, S. George Alimpic, has 45 days to make the improvements or face fines.
The city’s goal is to make sure the property is up to code, not to punish the property owner, said Tina Chechourka, a Napa code enforcement officer.
“People deserve to have habitable space with heat and no moisture in the house,” she said.
The Register was unable to reach Alimpic.
Meanwhile, the former residents of the home are struggling to find a new place to live, said Christy, who lived with there with her husband, a vineyard worker, and their five children, include a newborn. She asked her last name not be used so that her children, who attend Napa schools, not be identified.
Christy and her family moved into the house in August of 2009, she said. The place was unfinished, but Alimpic agreed to make the upgrades after she moved in. Her rent was $1,000 a month, she said.
The renovations were never completed, and after the rains arrived that fall, she began to notice mold growing in the home and other problems cropping up, she said.
Recently, the family looked for a new place to rent. Christy approached Fair Housing Napa Valley on March 10 to see if they could help find assistance for her to pay a nearly $3,000 deposit on a new place she had found.
During her interview with Fair Housing, she mentioned mold and other issues with her current rental.
Sherrie Brooks, housing specialist, said she connected Christy with Napa County’s Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Prevention program. Brooks and another Fair Housing specialist, Elaine Jojola-Sharp, arranged to do an inspection March 15.
Brooks found that the home had no heat, no working locks and mold growing.
“I was disgusted,” Brooks said. “The mold was so bad that when I left my chest hurt.”
They reported the problems to code enforcement that day.
“Our main goal was, first of all, get the family out of an uninhabitable situation,” Jojola-Sharp said.
The next day, they met Chechourka at the property. They arrived to find that a worker had torn out the wallboard in one of the back rooms of the residence, Brooks said.
Chechourka red-tagged the residence for work done without a permit.
In the meantime, Christy and her family were unable to move into their new rental because the tenants there extended their lease, Christy said.
Brooks and Jojola-Sharp told Alimpic that he was obligated to put up Christy and her family in a hotel room until she had a new place to live.
After some resistance, Alimpic agreed to pay for a room and purchased some clothing for the family’s children, Brooks said. He also gave her a letter stating she was a good tenant to help her find a new home, she said.
Alimpic stopped paying for the hotel room after five days, and the family — with children ages 10, 6, 5, 14-months and a 3-week-old — was forced to move into Napa’s family shelter, said Christy’s Santa Rosa-based attorney, Ethan A. Glaubiger.
Christy worries that living in the shelter will reflect poorly on her as she seeks to find a new home, Glaubiger said.
Jojola-Sharp said the shelter has programs that Christy can pursue to help connect her with a new living situation. Fair Housing will continue to follow up with code enforcement and the family.
Christy said she is grateful for a place to stay, but feels like her family’s life has been uprooted.
She and her husband figure that they can afford to pay as much as $1,300 in rent, but they are also struggling to replace many of their personal possessions that have been abandoned because of mold concerns.
“I know there are other people in Japan who are in worse conditions,” she said. “At least I have somewhere to stay, but it’s just really hard.”
“We are just starting over,” she said. “We have nothing.”�