Connolly's houses on Wirton still 'deplorable'

July 28, 1992|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Staff Writer

A fresh cement patch covered the rat hole in the kitchen wall at 1303 Wirton St. Christina Hickman said the room looked "100 percent better" after her landlord sent a worker to patch the hole yesterday morning.

But city housing inspector Bill Loehr said the landlord, R. William Connolly Jr., had failed to fix many other housing code violations in the rundown house.

An open rat hole remained in the kitchen floor, the paint had peeled from the rotten wood in a kitchen window sill and the house's rainspouts and gutters were tattered. An empty cabinet and a sink sat on the kitchen floor, left there by the worker who patched the one rat hole.

"It's just in deplorable condition," Mr. Loehr said of the house as he jotted down the violations and slapped Mr. Connolly with a 72-hour emergency violation notice. He told Ms. Hickman he would return by midweek to find out if the violations had been fixed.

Last Friday, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke ordered city housing inspectors to examine all 517 properties owned by Mr. Connolly's rental company, A Management Co. The mayor ordered the inspections because numerous housing code violations had been reported in Mr. Connolly's properties, which are in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.

When inspectors visited Mr. Connolly's Wirton Street homes a couple of months ago, they found numerous violations ranging from rat infestation to serious structural defects, said Bill Toohey, spokesman for the city Department of Housing and Community Development.

When Mr. Loehr visited the houses yesterday, he found morethan 60 violations in three Connolly houses, including the one rented by Ms. Hickman.

At the house that Linda Terrell, 30, has rented for four months, Mr. Connolly's firm was cited for frayed electrical wires. After examining the faulty wiring, Mr. Loehr said, "For sure, it's a fire hazard."

A Management was also cited for a malfunctioning gas jack behind the kitchen stove, rodent infestation, a broken kitchen window, rotten gutters and downspouts and a defective light socket in the dining room.

The floor in the upstairs bathroom was so weak that the toilet could fall through the ceiling, Mr. Loehr said.

The dwelling was last inspected on May 11, Mr. Loehr said, and cited for seven violations.

But the only improvements made since then were the installation of a new kitchen floor, which covered large rat holes, and repairs to an an upstairs closet which had collapsed. Other violations, such as a defective door frame, plaster holes and a weak exterior wall, apparently were not repaired.

Faye White sat on the front step of the house she rents from Mr. Connolly's firm and said she was happy to see Mr. Loehr inspecting the A Management houses in the 1300 block of Wirton St., which dead ends into the Green Mount Cemetery in East Baltimore.

In the two-bedroom house that Ms. White rents for $295 a month, Mr. Loehr found peeling plaster and paint, broken windows that would not stay open without being propped and a ceiling in one bedroom that was starting to buckle.

Ms. White said she uses a bucket for a toilet because she is afraid of the rats in her bathroom.

"Some people can't afford better housing so I'm glad he [the housing inspector] is here," said Ms. White as she held her 2-year-old son.

"But I think it's a shame that somebody has to get on their (A Management) back to get something done. They charge a lot for these houses, you know."

Mr. Connolly could not be reached for comment yesterday. But his lawyer, Ira C. Cooke, said Mr. Connolly would attempt to meet "the spirit and the letter of the law."

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