ELKHART — The former landlord who city officials and tenants say essentially walked away from his obligations defended his actions on the same day his former tenants were forced out.
Meanwhile, other people in Elkhart are working to help the displaced tenants who had lived on Kinzy Street. A bank account for donations and a car wash are being organized.
Marlowe Yoder, who called the Truth newsroom late Thursday afternoon, confirmed he used to own the building and admitted he’s recently liquidated many of his rental properties in Elkhart.
Yoder lashed out at his former tenants for not paying rent and at the city of Elkhart, which he says makes it difficult for landlords to operate.
City officials and tenants blamed Yoder, the former landlord, for apparently distancing himself from obligations concerning the property, which is now believed to be in foreclosure.
“If people paid their rent like they’re supposed to, I wouldn’t have problems,” Yoder said. “If people don’t pay rent, I can’t pay bills.”
Tenants said they were given very little explanation concerning ownership or the status of the building, and didn’t know something was amiss until the gas was shut off several weeks ago.
Yoder said he verbally informed some of the tenants more than a month ago and that they were given adequate time to find new arrangements.
Yoder said he doesn’t feel bad about the circumstances.
“Gee whiz, I feel bad about a lot of things. I feel bad nobody paid me rent, but I don’t hear nothing about that,” Yoder said. “City officials won’t say s--- until all the sudden there’s a tenant that has a problem.”
Yoder said he had owned numerous rental properties in Elkhart. He declined to say how many properties he had controlled, but said he has liquidated “pretty much” all of his rental properties.
Yoder said a business he was involved with, J&M Rentals, has closed and he’s done trying to operate a rental business in the city of Elkhart.
He accused the city of gouging him and other landlords with “frivolous” fines.
“The city does absolutely squat for the landlords,” Yoder said. “The city is out to do nothing but screw the landlord over and make it fricking hard any way they can.”
Mayor Dick Moore, who called Yoder’s actions “heartless” on Wednesday, declined to comment on Yoder’s concerns.
While Yoder was critical of the tenants, others are rallying to help them.
A bank account has been established to collect donations for tenants who were displaced.
The Law Offices of Stutsman & Mulvaney were in the midst of opening an account at 1st Source Bank.
A car wash is also planned for Sunday at First Congregational Church, at the corner of 3rd Street and West Marion Street to raise money for the former tenants.
The car wash is sponsored by a new community group, My Hood Needz Me, and is scheduled to be from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The money will go toward replacing the tenant’s deposits, which have not been returned, and money for a first month’s rent.
The building has four apartments.
As of Monday, two of the apartments had been vacated. A family with children found new housing at Roosevelt Center Apartment — just a block away — with help from LaCasa Inc., and a staff member, Jason Moreno.
Moreno said the 1st Source Bank account would be set up late Thursday afternoon and should be active by Friday morning.
The bank account is titled the “Kinzy Street Fund.”
The city forced residents to leave Thursday because the water bill for the building, which had been the responsibility of the landlord, had been overdue.
Moore said the water was turned off because of an outstanding bill, but said if one of the tenants had chosen to put the bill in their name, water could have been restored. He said tenants would not have been responsible for the outstanding balance.
Moore said the tenants declined to have the water bill placed in their names and were choosing instead to find new housing.
According to the mayor’s assistant, Arvis Dawson, several code violations were found at the property.
Moreno said he saw sewage pooling in the basement.
Yoder said he was unaware of the sewage.