Tenants of West Reading apartment forced to leave as borough prepares to condemn building

WEST READING, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- It's about the worst news the residents of a West Reading apartment complex could get in the throes of winter and amid the pandemic.

"It's like a nightmare," said tenant Brenda Britt Jones. "I'm getting put out of my home. Not because of my reasons, but because of somebody else and I don't think I should have to suffer for that."

Jones is one of the more than two dozen tenants of the Franklin Manor Apartments who have been told they'll need to leave by next week.

"They're just cutting us off just like we're nothing, we're nobodys," she said.

The borough is set to condemn the building out of concern for the health and safety of residents.

"Sinkholes, we're talking about a crumbling foundations," noted Borough Manager Nicholas Imbesi.

Action News obtained a copy of a recent inspection report that noted 47 items of concern.

A major worry for officials: a broken and leaking sewer pipe in the basement that borough officials said has been neglected by the property owner.

All this on top of a more than $20,000 delinquent water bill that will lead to the water being shut off.

What seems to be their reluctance?" asked 6abc reporter George Solis. "They said they have no money," replied Imbesi.

Imbesi said recent talks with the property owner, who is based out of New Jersey, have been less than fruitful.

County property records show the property is owned by PF Franklin Manor LP & Alliance Tax Advisors with a mailing address out of Irving, Texas.

In a statement by phone, an unnamed spokesperson for the owner told Action News, "the owner is fully committed to the building."

He added, "they are in the process of working with the city to figure out the best way forward."

A call to the property manager resulted in a hangup.

"I really feel they don't have the same type of intentions we have for the residents of the building, the tenants don't deserve this," Imbesi said.

To help, the borough had already extended some deadlines to give residents more time to find new homes.

They've also partnered with the Berks County Coalition to End Homelessness.

But for some tenants, it's not enough.

"I don't have a place to go right now. I got four little kids," said tenant Johnny Ayala.

Some have formed their own group to help one another in the hopes of buying more time.

"That's what brought us together is this whole ordeal is to try and see if we can have a voice of our own be heard," said tenant Thomas Federico.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.