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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Mitchell Families Fear being Homeless After Mitchell City Officials Evicts them from apartments

MITCHELL - JULY 3, 2023 - Mitchell families is fearing they may be homeless after Mitchell Building Commissioner Bill Sallee evicted them from their apartments located at 615 Main Street in Mitchell.

Photo: Families residing in apartments at 615 Main Street in Mitchell was notified this afternoon that they have to be out of their apartments in 15 days.

Alex Wilson, is concerned that he may be homeless after living in the apartment for the last two to three months. Wilson had to pay a deposit of $500 and $800 a month in rent.

" When I arrived home this afternoon, I seen the notice of the city. I went down to city hall to talk with both the building commissioner, and Mayor Jenkins," said Wilson.

According to Wilson, city officials told him the landlord James Mackey, was given notice from the city for quite some time but failed to notify the renters and kept collecting the rent.

" I moved up here from Jeffersonville, and Clarksville, area to be with family who lives in Paoli. Now, I am very concerned of working 40-60 hours a week on my job and having to scramble to look for housing yet again," added Wilson.

Wilson works as a landscaper in both Lawrence and Orange Counties, says that a person has to save enough money to be able to meet the costs of renting a place.

Housing in the area is difficult to find, and just to rent this place with sewer issues in the building is one of the hardest things to do.

"There were several issues with this apartment when I first got here, but there is not any good housing in Mitchell,"

The Mitchell Council is all too familiar with how hard housing is to find. That is after former Mayor J.D. England was allowed to stay more than eight months out of the city limits to serve as mayor.

The city council stated it was difficult for the former Mayor England to find a decent place in the city of Mitchell, after his home caught fire. According to city officials there were no places available for the former mayor to live.

During the city council meeting Monday, a community member asked the mayor what if they do not move? Mayor Jenkins replied, " they will go to jail," The same community member asked about what about the landlord, what happens to him. Mayor Jenkins replied, " There is nothing we can do to him,"

The landlord of the apartments is James Mackey, according to the residents of the three apartments.

Residents of the City of Mitchell states the city council is easy on the business owners in not fining them for ordinances violations and allow the slum lords of the community by without any kind of penalties. According, to the residents who are low income, cannot afford attorneys are left at the mercy of a city council that are not sensitive to their plight.

" This eviction notice is illegal, and we have been in contact with an attorney over the matter," said Robert Riley who resides at the apartments with his mother.

Photo: Residents located at 615 Main Street in Mitchell was told they must be out of their apartments in 15 days

According to Riley, the city will have to take them to court and have them evicted from the building. A lawsuit may be filed against the city according to some residents. Riley stated that an order must be signed by a judge in order to evict people from their property.

The issue according to city officials is the landlords have been renting apartments to residents on the business level of the building which is prohibited by city ordinance.

However, the apartments above, are allowed to have tenants, however basement apartments are also prohibited by the fire code.

With the housing shortages in the City of Mitchell and Lawrence County the residents are concerned they will be living on the streets. There are no homeless shelters in the City of Mitchell. With the limited income of these families finding another permanent residence is challenging and may take longer than the eviction notice is giving them.

In another building on the same block, on Main Street Mitchell Mayor Jenkins advised the city council that repairs are underway following the partial collapse of a building located at 621 West Main Street in Mitchell.

In late, 2022 the building collapsed, causing an evacuation of the area, due to explosive level of natural gas. Several businesses had to close and was financially impacted by the building collapse.

The Indiana State Fire Marshal's office ordered the building closed to occupancy until repairs could be made to the structure.

Mitchell City Council woman Vicky Schlegel asked why the City of Mitchell did not impose any fines on the building owner for the damages caused to area businesses.

Mayor Jenkins told the city council members that the business owner advised him, that if any fines were imposed the city would own the building. Former Mayor J.D. England, acting Mayor Larry Caudell and current Mayor Nathan Jenkins did not want to impose any fines on him.

The property owner was able to secure loans from his lending institution to make the needed repairs.

There is no timetable of when the project will be completed. At this time the building is too dangerous for the building to be occupied.


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