Freezing conditions turn dire for KC apartment residents in building without heat

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In this bitter cold, more than a dozen families went four days without heat, water or electricity. 

The city says the Barbaraworth property in the 500 block of Gladstone has been vacated and anyone staying here is in violation of the fire department’s “vacate order” 

But neighbors fear some tenants have nowhere else to go and could freeze to death if repairs aren’t made soon. 

Jason Barnes loves his spacious apartment in the historic Barbaraworth building in the city’s Historic Northeast neighborhood.  But this week, the unit’s been unlivable. 
 
“It’s just too much to handle,” Barnes said.

Monday morning, the building’s power went off and was repaired midday, then went out again Monday night. The furnace barely had time to start warming things up in the frigid cold when early Tuesday morning, a unit caught fire, leaving extensive water damage two doors down from Jason’s home.
 
“No one even knocked on our door. I just happened to walk up and notice everyone driving away,” said Barnes.
 
The power was out for an extended period, leading to the water getting shut off. Temperatures in Jason’s unit dipped to the 30s. His pet fish froze to death. 

By Thursday night power was partially restored, but it’s unknown if the building had water service restored.

Building management did set up a generator, but it’s only hooked up to portable heaters on the first floor, which have done little to warm Jason’s third-story unit. 
 
“The toilet water is frozen. So you can imagine everything from that on. It’s impossible. It’s too cold to live. I fear there are a few people still in the building who have nowhere else to go that are huddling in some corner,” Barnes said.
 
The property has a history of code violations. 

Following the fire and electrical problems, the fire department and city’s Healthy Homes program intervened. Owners will have to fix issues before electricity can safely be restored. 
But advocates say more must be done. 
 
“Tenants are displaced from building because of a fire and power outage that should never have been able to get to this point, and that’s the responsibility of the city to hold those landlords accountable,” said Tara Raghuveer with KC Tenants.
 
Barnes is thankful he’s got a temporary place to stay but fears the building could ultimately be condemned. 

“It might be easier just to write it off and in that case, we just fall through the cracks,” said Barnes.

The building is owned by a shell company in New York and run by Bowery Property Management of Ohio. FOX4 visited its Kansas City office with no response and called the company, only to get a recording.

KC Tenants say it’s committed to helping get the issues here resolved and encourages renters with problems like this to call its hotline at (816) 533-5435.

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