Fire destroys St. Claude building housing transients - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Fire destroys St. Claude building housing transients

Updated:
Home at 2816-2828 Urquhart Street Home at 2816-2828 Urquhart Street
New Orleans, La. -

A morning fire forced some homeless people out of a building the city says they shouldn't have been living in anyway.

Last month Safety and Permits deemed the makeshift apartments in the 2800 block of Urquhart Street unsafe for human habitation.

"It was a few of us in there," said Jimmy Wordworth. "We were waiting on Unity to give us a place to stay. Now we're waiting on the Red Cross now to give us a place to stay."

No one was hurt in the fire, but safety and permits inspectors had put of signs on July 31, calling the building unsafe to live in.

Wordworth says there's more. "We just had travelers coming through, you know, they burst doors down and all this here. Really, that is unsafe."

James Scott used to live in the rundown building. "They got people around here doing drugs, that's basically what's its about. It's a hiding place to do drugs. It's a worn-down place to get loaded."

Power to the burned building was already out. The building owner, who identified himself as Rev. Fred Morgan, used an extension cord to run power for lights from a building next door.

"They told me it was illegal and I told them why I was running it," Morgan said. He says the cord was to give some light to the homeless living in his building.

"I deal with the people who can't pay $800 to get a house. I deal with people who pay $250 to $300 a month rent. That's what I charge and sometimes they wouldn't even do that," he said.

Jimmy Wordworth did work on the place for Morgan to earn his keep.

"He looked out for a lot of people that didn't have nothing but at the same time he kept stuff really bad around here. It's like trash, unlivable," said James Scott who now lives in his van.

When asked his response to being called a slum lord, Morgan said, "They're already calling me that. I would say I would have lived there if I didn't have a home. I would have lived right there with my people."

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