Residents evacuated after the Quakertown Bush House Hotel was convicted

64 residents of a historic Quakertown motel were evacuated Wednesday morning after district officials condemned the insect-infested building when inspectors classified it as a health and safety hazard.

The Bush House Hotel on the 100 block off West Broad Street has been a target of complaints from communities and residents since a fatal fire in 2018 because much of the building has been gutted and repairs have been minimal since then, district officials said in a press release. Parts of the building where the fire broke out remained cordoned off.

Residents, many of whom are poor, elderly or disabled, received a notification from Quakertown’s Code Enforcement Officer Douglas Wilhelm on Wednesday morning to collect and vacate their belongings as the building was sentenced to be uninhabitable. The announcement cited the deteriorated structure and unsafe and unsanitary conditions including insect infestation that affected the building’s fire protection system.

Conditions at the low-income guest house were so poor that residents were told that if they refused to shower in decontamination vans on the property, they would be denied “relocation”.

“It is in your interest and in the interest of your family as well as the public interest that you cooperate with us when we try to alleviate and eliminate the unsanitary conditions on this property and prevent them from spreading to other places and buildings”, it says in the letter.

Residents were given medical exams before being transferred to an evacuation center in Quakertown Borough Hall, where they were medically re-examined, provided food and water, and met with district government and nonprofits about new housing options.

At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, district officials called a press conference to report the dire conditions inside the building. Rescue workers’ reports were not for the faint of heart.

In July, emergency services at the Bush Hotel came forward after reports of a seriously injured 83-year-old resident in distress.

“They observed a resident with a severe infection in the area of ​​her stomach with some oozing from the infection site and bite marks,” said Wilhelm. “The next day the woman died.”

The community obtained an arrest warrant to enter the property 30 days ago. “The bed bugs are in every room,” said Wilhelm. “The cockroaches invaded the electrical system and were actually in the fire alarm system.

“The fire brigades reacted to the object because the cockroaches were actually in the fire alarm system,” continued Wilhelm.

The evacuation of the complex’s 64 residents was unavoidable, officials said. “This building has to be dismantled down to the bare tunnels and a combination of heat and chemicals is required to combat the infestation,” said Wilhelm.

Residents can re-enter the motel to collect additional belongings, but only if accompanied by a “certified” district official and only from Monday to Thursday from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm

Locks will be placed on the exterior doors of the Bush House Hotel in Quakertown Borough after the building was closed on Wednesday, Nov.

Local residents reported a chaotic scene on Wednesday.

Nick Vess said he lived in an apartment at the Bush Hotel with his wife and two children. Vess said he paid $ 900 a month for the apartment and had no problems with roaches or bed bugs.

“I knocked on my door around 9am and this cop said we had 20 minutes to get out,” Vess said. “I knew there were inspection problems, but no one told us exactly what happened.”

Charles Coleman and his partner Kristina Tatum told a very different story. They paid $ 150 a week for a session. The problems with bugs have been constant, the couple said. When they asked, the landlord would send someone to take care of the bugs. But they also had to keep cleaning the apartment to keep bugs out.

“It was a place for some people who had no other place,” Coleman said. “Some people were in a really bad situation.”

A resident who had lived in a one-room basement apartment for the past few years and asked not to use his name described a long lack of maintenance in the building. “There are so many things that should be done,” he said.

Still, it was home – and now he has nowhere to go.

“What is he going to do with all of us?” he said, referring to the client. “I don’t want to go back to a homeless shelter. You have taken the place I know as home.

Displaced residents of the Bush House Hotel await Wednesday the 10th.

Erin Lukoss, executive director of Bucks County Opportunity Council, said the organization is working to accommodate some of the displaced residents in hotels or help them connect with family members.

“Nobody should have to go through this,” said Lukoss. “It is a difficult position. They accept any help we can give them. We are doing everything we can to ensure that no one becomes homeless.”

The Opportunity Council was just one of several local aid organizations. They were joined by the Bucks County’s YWCA, North Penn Goodwill Canteen, and Quakertown Community Outreach, among others. The county’s mental health, drug and alcohol, and consumer protection departments were also there to provide resources.

Bucks County spokesman James O’Malley said the county provides housing and social assistance to displaced residents.

District officials cited “numerous” safety and health violations as the reason for evacuating residents and condemned the building as uninhabitable until repairs were completed.

The motel has received “numerous complaints” from residents, the public and first aiders about the conditions there. Inspections of the property revealed violations, including severe bed bugs and a German roach infestation throughout the property.

Cockroaches infiltrated the building’s fire alarm systems and electrical outlets and plumbing, creating a “major security risk,” which has led to an extremely large number of false positives, officials said.

Quakertown Borough officials on Wednesday condemned the Bush House Hotel for harsh conditions there, including insect infestation.

The inspections also identified rooms with heavy debris, food waste, and clutter that can serve as feeding grounds for insects.

An exterminator who accompanied the county staff on the inspections recommended that the entire building be treated with both a liquid and a heat destruction program. The building must be tidy, cleaned and uninhabited for this program to be fully and properly carried out, officials said.

The Bush House is considered a historic building built by William Bush in 1850. At the time, it was the only building with a ballroom in Quakertown, according to historical records. The hotel was considered a stopping point for travelers on the Reading Railroad, whose train station was across the street.

The building retains many of the Victorian features such as ornate wood moldings and hardwood floors, but lacks a sprinkler system. A building-wide fire alarm system was only installed in 2017.

In April 2018, a large part of the building was badly damaged in a two-alarm fire that killed an 82-year-old resident. Several residents had to be rescued from the building, according to news reports, several injuries were reported. The cause of the fire remained unexplained, but district officials assumed it was an electrical fire.

“Since that fire, the owner has only minimally renovated this part of the building that is still unoccupied,” the statement said.

In 2019, district officials inspected the property and gave the owner 30 to 45 days to fix the outstanding issues. It is unknown if the repairs were made.

The county’s ownership records indicate that the building is owned by MT Estate Realty in Perkasie, owned by Thomas Skiffington. The Bush House and two other lots were all recorded in October 2004.

MT Estate paid $ 348,000 for the Bush House Hotel and an additional $ 954,000 for properties in the Front Street apartment block – which connects to Bush House – and the 10th block on South Second Street which is behind Bush House.

The county records show that none of the properties owe any outstanding taxes.

That news agency failed to reach attorney Anthony Diulio, who represents Skiffington, after emailing him on Wednesday.

Correspondent Michele Haddon contributed to this report.

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