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City of Newport News provides hotels for displaced Seaview Lofts residents

The city will provide residents a room through July 6th, said a city spokesperson.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Time is up for hundreds of people who have to move out of a Newport News apartment building. 

Seaview Lofts officially closed Friday after a court order forced all residents out of the building, according to City of Newport News officials. 

RELATED: People who live at SeaView Lofts in Newport News ordered to vacate due to safety issues

On Wednesday morning, many of the residents found a letter from the Newport News Department of Codes Compliance on their door. It said the building's owner failed to correct safety issues. The property had been "deemed unsafe for occupancy."

Residents learned they had until  9 a.m. Friday to move out of their units. 

"They gave us two days -- 48 hours -- to get out," said Linda Williams, who lived at Seaview Lofts for 13 years.

By Friday afternoon, hours after the court ordered deadline, Newport News police, fire and code officials stood outside of the 15-story building located near City Hall, and they helped people grab last minute belongings out of the newly condemned apartment building. 

The building housed more than 150 people, including singles, families and elderly. 

RELATED: Sea View Loft residents pack up following the city's order to vacate

"We’ve just tried to work with the owners of the property, and they just have not been able to do what we need to do," said Newport News City Manager Cindy Rohlf, who called it a 'tough day.' 

Records obtained by 13NewsNow showed the elevator system overall failing an annual inspection. Documents revealed that there were issues with the fire extinguisher, travel cable, phone and bell.

According to a city spokesperson, leaders have filed 13 criminal charges against the owner of Seaview Lofts because of several code violations. Ten charges are related to the elevator not functioning. One is related to an electrical hazard, one for a fire protection system not working and another because the vent to the boiler is not connected.

The possibility and timeline for residents to return to the apartment depends on the judicial system and the building owner's ability to fix concerns, according to Rohlf. 

"But I can tell you we will not allow people to go back into the building that's in the current condition," said Rohlf. "That's just not something we can do safely." 

RELATED: 'Financially, I can't afford that' | Residents of Newport News apartment complex still scrambling over deadline to vacate

In a statement to 13NewsNow, attorneys representing the building owner said, "Seaview has been working diligently to address the concerns that led the City to issue this order to vacate, and will continue to do so." 

Attorneys cited "global supply chain complications" for delayed completion of repairs, particularly noting efforts to address issues with an elevator. 

In the meantime, city staff, including Vice Mayor Dr. Saundra Nelson Cherry and members of the Newport News Department of Human Resources, coordinated to place residents in hotels across the peninsula.

However, hotel vouchers provided by the city last through July 6, according to Rohlf. 

“We want to thank the City of Newport News for your efforts [and] Department of Human Services for your efforts. But what happens after Wednesday?" said Angela Harris, who said she was born and raised in Newport News and knows many of the Seaview residents. 

Several city leaders could not provide clarity when asked what, if any, resources will be available for displaced residents after July 6.

"I’m hoping that more people will come out and do more than pray. There are other things that you can do. Support the best way you can," said Pastor Norman Cunningham, of Tabernacle of Praise. 

Cunningham lives in the nearby community. 

He and Sherie Johnson, who runs non-profit Giving with a Golden Hand, teamed up with Newport News City Councilwoman Tina Vick to offer food, pampers and gift cards to displaced residents.  

“It’s not easy for people to find a place to stay at the last minute like this," said Vick, who said she was frustrated by the developments. 

"This affects all of us. This is not just a Newport News issue," said Johnson, who traveled from Virginia Beach to help. "That could be your mom, your dad, your children in there." 

Residents who need assistance can call the Regional Housing Crisis Hotline at 757-227-5932.

Click here to donate to a gofundme for residents.

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