This is really an update on a story first reported here on January 5. Local activist Alfonso Todd (Project R.E.A.L.) published a disturbing video of an Allentown family locked out of their apartment at 47 N. 7th Street. That's the old Linden Bar Hotel, owned by Pauline Martinez. Distraught parents, with a three-year old girl, were faithfully paying $80 per week in rent. There never was any heat, although the "landlord" had promised to take care of that. On January 3, water and electricity were suddenly shut off. The parents had no place to go and were unable to retrieve their personal possessions. Allentown shelters had no room. Even the police were unable to help as a worried mother watched her three year-old girl grow colder and colder. Many of you wanted to know what happened to this family. I had no answer.
Now I do, thanks to CACLV Executive Director Alan Jennings. He tells me he only rarely reads blogs because he's no computer guy, kinda' like John McCain. But Lady Fortune must have been smiling for this family because he happened to see my story and jumped on it. Here's what he learned. The building had been declared unfit for human habitation between two and three years ago. The building owner or someone misrepresenting herself as the building owner was illegally renting rooms in this building. This family was evicted with out court order - it was an illegal lock out. They were denied access to their belongings, which is also illegal.
Jennings tracked down the family and then decided he was going to break into the building himself and get their stuff. Attorney Don Miles was there, too, aiding and abetting this felony. Jennings also had a sledge hammer, a drill and plastic explosives. Unfortunately, somebody prevailed on him to get a locksmith. While they were all waiting, a former tenant happened by, and he amazingly had the key to let them in.
They were able to retrieve this family's belongings. More importantly, Jennings offered this family shelter, but they had already found a room with a friend.
Channel 69 did broadcast Jennings' break in, but it would be a lot better if he were arrested or blew the door open. So far as Jennings knows, no prosecution has been started against the person who clearly took advantage of a poor family. He's been trying to leave a comment on this blog for days, but finally decided to just call me.