Residents complain of unsanitary living conditions; neighbors want Tampa mobile homes destroyed

TAMPA, Fla. - Neighbors call "Greenpark Residences," a mobile home park on 19th Street North in Tampa, an eyesore at best.  At worst, they call it a crime den.

Despite decades of code violations, though, the city won't shut it down.

"The guy who's running this place hasn't done anything to it and code enforcement's been out here a hundred times or more," said neighbor, Vern Smith.

Smith calls the landlord, Ross Capelliti, a "slumlord."

"Most of these people who rent these trailers, they can't rent any place else, so they come to places like this," Smith said.

That's certainly the case for a woman who lives in one of the homes with her husband and four kids. They rented a house before it fell into foreclosure.  They bounced around from one motel room to another, and she says the trailer is all they can afford right now.

So, they put up with numerous problems.

They use a non-working refrigerator to block a huge, gaping hole in the wall, where bugs and mice can still crawl inside. The shower doesn't work, so everyone has to take a bath. The windows are broken and can't shut all the way.

"We have a board at the bottom of the tree that's holding it up," she said. "It has mildew all throughout the trailer."

She doesn't want to be identified for fear that they'll lose the little they have.

"I'm happy because my kids have a roof over their head," she said. "I have to accept it and live in it, because that's all I have for right now."

Greenpark Residences has faced code violations dating back to the early 1990s.

Most of the recent violations include failed inspections on dilapidated structures.

A handful of the homes have, at one point or another, been condemned as unfit for human habitation.

ABC Action News called Capelliti for comment. His voicemail box was full. We sent him a text message as well. He never responded.
 
We also drove to his business address listed with the city of Tampa. We found a vacant lot with a rusted mailbox chained to the fence.
 
Several calls to code enforcement were not returned, so we stopped by the office Friday afternoon, where an employee told us a supervisor would call us before the end of the business day. That never happened.

"We're afraid to go to sleep at night, and we're up in age, almost 80 years old," said Smith's wife, Mary. "Something needs to be done."

Those who have demanded change, however, don't seem to get far.

"I think it's disgusting," said Cheryl Adkins. "Rats ate through the walls.  There was a bad rat problem."

Adkins lived in one of the homes for 19 years. She says she finally got so fed up with the filth, she called code enforcement, but they didn't do anything and Capelliti kicked her out.

"It's not condemned and it should be. It's uninhabitable," she said, pointing to her old home. "They should either fix them or tear them down."

The mother of four agrees, especially since they have no heat. Despite $400 a month in rent, her kids dress for school by their oven.

"It's miserable with them all standing in front of the stove in the morning, trying to be warm, putting on their clothes," she said. "I would like to live how normal people live, paying what I pay."

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