It's a happy day for two formerly homeless people who used to live at the Old Ward Bakery building on East 55th and Chester avenue. The building was purchased by the City of Cleveland in July, and demolition of the site began at the beginning of this month. 90.3's Janet Babin joins us live in the studio with an update on this story.
Janet Babin- On August 1 the City of Cleveland and squatters at the Ward building were in a standoff. The homeless people living there refused to leave, even though the building was slated for demolition.
The squatters, with the help of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, sought a temporary restraining order in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to keep the building from being torn down. They claimed that under Ohio Landlord Tennant Law, they had rights to the building, because they'd lived there off and on for more than twenty years...
But the demolition was well under way by the time the homeless had a chance to file that suit last week, so Judge Thomas Curran denied the temporary restraining order, and instead ordered that the city and homeless work out their differences in face to face meetings.
One couple, Pam and Eduardo Lauriano, are walking into their own apartment today. Brian Davis, executive director of the homeless coalition, says an anonymous doner has come forward to help the couple. Pam has a young son and is pregnant. The two testified during the court case that they didn't want to go to city shelters because there was nowhere for them to remain as a family. They also told Judge Curran that the state of the city's shelters was substandard.
Davis says the coalition is still hoping that a meeting with the city will be forthcoming.
City officials weren't available for comment today. However, a news release was issued earlier this week stating that the Ward bakery contained a unique form of asbestos, a substance which can be dangerous if it's broken down improperly, so all demolition on the project was halted.