OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A landlord with a history of safety violations and evicting people during an eviction moratorium now has an entire building being shut down because the conditions are so unlivable.
Tenants of 2557 Jones St. say they've been living without heat, sometimes without water and electricity. Rodents run rampant, doors are missing and dangerous electric equipment is left uncovered.
“The walls are caving in, the ceiling is caving in," said Robert Toscana who lived in the building for almost 5 years. "It rains on my house and I live on the bottom floor.”
Many residents said they continuously asked their landlord, William Stanek, to fix the issues, and dozens of reports were filed with the city.
"I don’t see how he could have no compassion for people," said Rudolph Herrara. "Because if I know I got families living like this, I’m going to do everything in my power, just to be over there. ‘Hey let me get you an Airbnb for a week, work on your unit and make it habitable so you and your family can be okay,'"
On Monday, the city officially deemed the building unlivable, giving residents until Tuesday to vacate their homes.
Mike Hornacek, President and CEO of Together Omaha said the conditions are worse than Yale Park, an apartment complex shut down in 2018 which the landlord was sentenced to two years probation.
“We just can’t continue to allow this to happen," Hornacek said. "I mean, what I saw when I walked through today would make anybody with a conscious infuriated, angry. It’s criminal. I hope there’s criminal charges brought against the owner.”
As of Monday morning, Stanek had 15 open violation cases on this building alone, some dating back as far as 2015.
Many are asking why this has been allowed to continue.
Scott Lane, chief housing inspector for the city, says the current system makes it hard for them to punish landlords for this kind of failure.
“The owner has been issued criminal charges citations for some of the cases that we’re discussing," Lane said. "The judge gives him a fine, and that case technically is considered accomplished even though it hasn’t been repaired and that’s a process in which I’m going to be working on.”
Councilmember Danny Begley who represents these citizens toured the property this week. He said he wants to send a message that this is unacceptable.
“In my view going through this property it checks a box of a slumlord," Begley said. "They need to be held accountable. Whatever laws we have on the books now need to be enforced, and if there’s things we can do later to help put teeth into that I’ll certainly look at it.”
Twelve families had to leave their homes on Monday, but Together Omaha and other groups like the Omaha Autonomous Action Group were able to find temporary housing for them all.
Together Omaha said they’ll need help covering the costs of moving these families into permanent homes. You can donate money or items to help these families at togetheromaha.org
KMTV reached out to Bill Stanek for comment, but have not heard back from him.