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More rowhomes condemned following crumbling roof collapse in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — Nearly every home within a row in Pittsburgh’s Hill District has now been condemned following a collapse of the facade on Monday.

Channel 11 reported on the emergency clean-up efforts after bricks and debris came tumbling down onto cars parked on Camp Street shortly after 12:30 p.m.

>>> 4 rowhomes, 2 cars damaged in partial building collapse in Pittsburgh’s Hill District

By early evening, three homes had been condemned, two of which were occupied. According to a Pittsburgh spokesperson, Red Cross crews were being called to provide housing to the displaced individuals.

Channel 11 revisited the block on Tuesday, and we noted that two additional homes had blue condemned signs. Two others within the row were condemned several months ago.

Only one house stands without a condemnation sign, and yet the 96-year-old resident told us she hasn’t yet been permitted to enter.

“I want to go home,” Gwendolyn Garner said.

Gwendolyn is currently staying with nearby family, as a city inspector makes a final determination on her home.

Channel 11 spoke with her daughter, Victoria Garner.

“We’re just waiting to find out when we can reenter,” Victoria said. “There’s no apparent damage to her home, but we’re just not sure yet... and the utilities were interrupted.”

Neighbors told us that the condemned homes have been deteriorating for quite some time.

“I’m very disappointed,” Victoria said. “Because she’s put a lot into her property, to maintain her property, and you know it’s just disheartening. We grew up in this neighborhood. It used to be a beautiful, lovely block and there’s just been a lot of disrepair and no maintenance.”

Property records for the rowhomes reveal a mix of owners. Some are owned by corporations, some by private individuals and two are owned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Victoria said that she’s watched as numerous nearby streets have received rehabilitation through grant funding, but the homes within her mom’s row have gone untouched.

Over the years, she’s contacted the URA, the city, and even individual property owners when observing deteriorating conditions threatening her mom’s property.

We reached out to the city to ask if the homes have received citations for code issues in the past, and to ask if the properties should have been condemned before the collapse. We have not yet gotten a reply.

A spokesperson for the URA sent Channel 11 a statement reading “as part of Phase I of the URA’s Crime Prevention through Blight Remediation Initiative, the URA’s efforts to stabilize and preserve these properties have been underway.”

The spokesperson said that contracts for stabilization work are being finalized for the two properties on Camp Street and work is expected to begin within 30 to 60 days. “Work will include roof replacement, new windows, sidewalk replacement, and other interior and exterior repairs necessary for stabilizing the structures,” the spokesperson told us.

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