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500+ refugees evacuated from Omaha apartment building

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A full-scale housing inspection is underway in Omaha at an apartment building near 34th and Lake.

Omaha code enforcement officials say the conditions were so bad they had to evacuate the building.

Officials say they have found two gas leaks in the building already.

Omaha city officials say they've received more than 90 official code complaints since Friday, September 14th about the Yale Park apartments.

Officials say there were complaints of bed bugs, lice, mice, ceilings caving in, holes in the roof, and more.

There were more than 500 people living in the apartment building. More than 170 of them are students with the Omaha Public School district.

Officials describe the action as a “humanitarian effort” for the Myanmar refugees who’ve fled ethnic unrest in their country and who have found work in Omaha-area meatpacking plants.

The building's owner says he hasn't received any serious complaints from the tenants. He told a Fox 42 photographer he thinks this may be because the tenants are used to bad conditions at refugee camps.

City Councilman Ben Gray says this shows the need for ordinances against problem landlords in the city of Omaha.

He says the apartment had a waiting list of people trying to get in despite the problematic conditions.

He called the 500 people forced to leave their homes today the "tip of the iceberg".

Gray says Omaha should not be a community that allows people to "live in squalor" while other people collect rent.

Omaha mayor Jean Stothert says there are two community centers already filled with cots that can be used as emergency shelter.

The city plans to help with permanent housing after that.


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