Updated: October 02, 2020 12:54 PM
Created: October 01, 2020 07:04 PM
ESPAÑOLA, N.M.- An Española family that has been evicted from its house says the city’s process is unfair and it wished it could have had more notice.
The Garcia family admits the property is in bad shape right now. Four people lived there when, one day, they saw a condemnation notice on the door. Now, they’re homeless. Robert Garcia and his girlfriend have been living out of a car for a week and a half.
“We have lots of stuff, lots and lots of stuff. We have memories in this house and everything. We didn't expect this to happen. Everything was all unexpected,” Robert Garcia said.
They say they wish they had had more time to meet the city’s requirements.
Once they got the notice, they had 10 days to get out of their Espanola home. It came at the worst time. Their mother died three months ago. They say that's when they stopped taking care of the house, and Robert Garcia also admits he’s battling drug addiction.
“They don't care. They just want us to be out, and it sucks because it's like, where's your heart?” said his sister, Katerina Salinas-Garcia.
The family has lived there for 30 years.
“That's what this community is doing, is turning their back on the poorest people that don't have a chance already,” Katerina Salinas-Garcia said.
The Garcia's say the trash that’s around the outside of their house wasn’t there before. The family claims, after the house was condemned, other people broke into the home and left garbage behind.
City of Espanola officials gave two reasons for its decision to condemn:
1. The electricity was shut off. Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative reps said they're not disconnecting power during the pandemic, but they did in this case because the account is in a deceased family member’s name. That needed to be changed. The co-op is ready to forgive the thousands of dollars the family owes.
2. City officials say this house isn’t in a livable condition. Improvements have to be made and pass inspection.
Why wasn't there more notice to meet the requirements?
The city planner says the city doesn’t have to give more notice. It has the authority to issue a condemnation letter because of all the properties in the area that are in bad shape. He says Espanola decided to take the issue more seriously but also tries working with those families.
KOB 4 heard from others in the community who also received condemnation notices.
As for the Garcias, they're going to try and make those necessary improvements.
“Where's the love in this community? 'The heart of New Mexico' is what they call this place. Where's the heart in the community that's supposed to give us a chance at life,” Katerina Salinas-Garcia said.
They just hope they can return to their life sometime soon.
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