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Wall collapse forces residents out of condemned apartments

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Time is running out for people who live at the McFarland apartment building in Harrisburg to make their next move.

The city condemned part of the building after a nearby retaining wall collapsed in May.

Tuesday was moving day for some people who live in the condemned section of the building. A few already moved out, while others have a three more days to figure out where they are going to live next.

Packing up and moving to a new home can be stressful enough, even more so when when you least expect it.

Walter Marshall, a friend of a resident, said "I called down to city hall, code, and the code said that they have 15 days to move out, that's when they put the sign on there."

Tonya Chatman, daughter of a resident, said "to be told you have 15 days to move, when you've lived in a place for almost 25 years, it's pretty stressful."

Chatman's mother had a corner unit. The apartment has unobstructed views of the city, not to mention the collapse of a retaining wall and crumbling hillside below.

"It's a really weird feeling, I think, even if they wouldn't have condemned it, I don't know how you sleep good at night," Chatman said.

While one gathered their belongings to find a safer place to live, Chatman's 63-year-old mother had to leave Harrisburg behind, and moved in with her other daughter in Pittsburgh.

"My mom's older, but you have these young people living paycheck to paycheck," Chatman said.

"And you've got a lot of single parents over here, that means that they have to come up with two months rent somewhere, and they have to get out of here," Marshall said.

It's a difficult transition for many forced out of their homes on an eviction notice on the condemned building.

"What are they doing, relocating, adjusting mentally, it's a mental, it's just not physical with moving stuff, it's mentally you've got to find a place to live," Chatman said.

Chat an hoped the property managers would provide some answers.

"It's pretty stressful, as far as not knowing what's going on, even though they give you the quick answer when we're trying to respond back to you, but it's so aggressive and not really addressing what you need to do," Chatman said.

Chat man says she hasn't received her mother's security deposit back, or anything else from the management.

"No one wants to take the blame for this/even just having the compassion to say we understand, that we can empathize with you, no empathy, no compassion," Chatman said.

While friends are helping friends, Marshall said there doesn't appear to be any other help or concern for his friend who lives there.

"It's frustrating when you see that no one from higher up in the city is here, the only person you see is a camera crew," Marshall said.

Whether it's to give a helping hand or lend a sympathetic ear, Marshall hopes the Mayor or someone else from the city will pay a visit soon, with time running out for the affected residents to move out.

"If you don't care, it's just good PR to come here, and see how the people are doing, or put pressure on the owner of the property, Marshall said.

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