More than 20 people in Merced are left without a home after city condemns apartment complex

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Several residents were left without a place to stay after their apartment complex was condemned in June. (KFSN)

Starve or stay on the street are the choices Donald Wendover says he has now left with. Just a little more than a week ago his home was a unit at apartments along Highway 59 in Merced.

Now, Wendover's home is in his car, in a parking lot near Highway 99.

"The city has disrupted 12 units of happy people."

Wendover is one of several residents left without a place to stay after the apartment complex was condemned in June. Many were left to depend on local organizations and charities for any source of help.

"They slapped these stickers on our wall and told us to that we had to leave--who does that to people," said Christine Wood, tenant.

City officials said the problems started with a call from a tenant regarding water issues and mold, but when inspectors arrived to look at the property they decided to red tag the entire building because it was extremely dangerous.

"The stairwells and landing out there were structurally unsafe. We had our building inspector look at it, and we were concerned they could quite literally fall down," said Mike Conway, City of Merced.

Tenants were given 24 hours to relocate but they said that wasn't enough.

"It's a 24 hour notice-- where are we going to go, what are we going to do," said Wendover.

The landlord wasn't on site but his son told us that while he agrees with closing the complex due to safety hazards, he argues the city created a crisis by not giving the tenants more time to move out.

The tenants said they were told they would be arrested if they returned to their property, but all they are asking for is a chance to take what's theirs.

"Everything-- everything that I own is up there," said Wood.

The city said that they are working with residents on a limited basis to get their stuff; however, they do need to make arrangements prior with Code Enforcement.
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