Rankin Tenants Face Homelessness, Streets

by Jayne Martin
Originally published in Cincinnati Homeless Grapevine, a precursor to Streetvibes

Debbie Egan and her family are living through a nightamre.

On May 28, they were given less than 12 hours to evacuate their home at the El Rancho Rankin where they had lived for five years.

Debbie returned from a doctor’s appointment with her daughter to find the parking lot of the hotel where she lived filled with concerned tenants who informed her that the Fire Marshal had just left, giving them notice that the building would be condemned.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Debbie explained, “We were given no warning at all. How does someone just pick up five years of their life and find a new place in one day?”

The tragedy began last year when the owner of the El Rancho Rankin hotel, a man who called himself “the colonel,” died, leaving the estate to employees of the hotel to maintain. Several months ago, when the Fire Marshal visited the hotel, he warned the new caretakers that certain repairs needed to be made or else the building would be condemned.THey ignored his warnings and refused oto make any repairs on the building. Debbie Egan says they did so because they already had a buyer for the property and didn’t want to send any money.

According to Egans, the new caretakers and their lawyers would be dividing the profits from the sale of the building. If they made no repairs to the building and it got condemned, they would not be responsible for any replacement costs for the families.

“It’s a shame,” says Egan, “how anyone can think of making a profit when hundreds of families are being put out on the streets or being forced to live in shelters until they find a place to go. That’s the worst part of it, thinking of how they were all friends and then they just walked away.

Egan says the caretakers have not been back to the building since it was condemned, but have hired a security officer to watch the building to make sure that people don’t move out with any of the hotel’s furnishings. According to Egan, the phones have been cut off and there had been bad threats that the gas and electric would be shut off if people didn’t get out soon. Egan says that most people left out of fear, though no one wanted to leave.

“People were comfortable here,” she said, “it was their home, they had friends here.”

Egan explained that most residents were able to find friends and family who would take them in temporarily, but very few had money to move into their own apartments. The Red Cross were able to assist about 50 of the 104 families with some money for rent and security deposits for families who needed help. Egan says her own family had to rent a storage space to put their things in because they could not find an affordable apartment to move into until July.