Family happy to have roof over heads |

Family happy to have roof over heads

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily TribunePedro Rosas and Maria Rodriquez, with daughter Leslie, say they're much happier in their new apartment since the ceiling collapsed in their old unit.

A low-income South Lake Tahoe family started the year with a new lease on life.

After they narrowly escaped a collapsing ceiling, civic and government groups came to the rescue.

The world came crashing down a month ago on Pedro Rosas, Maria Rodriquez and 2-year-old daughter Leslie in their $450-a-month, one-bedroom apartment on Ski Run Boulevard. On Dec. 20, a piece of the ceiling the size of a loveseat fell to the floor, 4 feet away from the trio watching television.

The toddler ran into her mother’s arms, Rodriquez said. She’s a stay-at-home mom, while her husband works at The Waterwheel Restaurant.

The parents said toys and decorations were ruined.

“We were desperate and worried. How are we going to stay here?” Rosas said. “We’ve never had anything like this happen before.”

Rosas said he was forced to take two days off work, while the family moved into Rodriquez’s mother’s Heavenly Valley home. Space was limited though, so the family had to find a new place to live.

El Dorado County Health Advocate Gabriela Inigo was notified and informed the couple of a new South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce affordable-housing fund, set aside to relocate displaced residents. The family received $650 from the $17,000 fund to use as a deposit for a new home.

They moved into an apartment on Treehaven Drive for $25 more a month than they were paying on Ski Run. The cost of the move was about $1,292, Rosas figured.

“This is better. We’re happy here. The other apartment was cold all the time anyway,” Rosas said, as Leslie played in the living room.

Rodriquez said the couple often wore two or three layers of clothing in the house, bought a space heater and rearranged the furniture around the ceiling leaks.

Rodriguez said she complained to the apartment manager at least 20 times about the ceiling before it fell, but she received no satisfaction.

“At first, he kept saying ‘I’ll do it,’ but he later rejected us. The day the ceiling fell, we took the pieces to him,” she said.

Attorney Lew Feldman heads a chamber committee established to tackle the affordable housing quandary at South Lake Tahoe.

“Now we’re sending a message that this will not be tolerated in our community,” Feldman said.

The chamber partnered with the city, county and local businesses to devise new ways to get low-income residents — who fuel the tourism-based economy — into housing that’s affordable and out of residences with substandard conditions.

The county condemned No. 32 in the Bart’s Tahoe Apartments, a complex managed by Tamarack Rentals. The notice reads the apartment was closed off due to “dampness, general dilapidation, structural hazards and faulty weather protection.”

Jim Beattie, who runs the property management firm, vacated the entire third floor “to make the city and county happy.”

Beattie and his apartment complex manager Atanasio “Nacho” Ramos deny receiving as many complaints as the couple claims. And the manager said he urged the couple to move before the ceiling collapsed.

“She told me it was OK,” Ramos said.

“We tried to be reasonable,” Beattie said. “I think they were compensated handsomely.”

He added the couple’s deposit was returned and Tamarack chipped in for a moving truck.

He said the ceiling likely gave out due to heavy rain. It will cost $90,000 to fix it, he said.

Beattie said the couple was advised to leave their bedroom door open to protect the wall from mildew.

“When they complained in November, Nacho told them to leave the door open so they get the heat and wouldn’t get the mildew,” Beattie said.

Mildew has presented a problem in the No. 24 unit below No. 32, too.

Rosa Margarita complains her apartment is cold, and her baby has been sick. It is unknown whether the two are related.

Beattie said he thinks some tenants shy away from cranking up the heater to keep bills lower in recent cold days.

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