Officers on Friday stormed a South Los Angeles building where about 40 people living there illegally were evacuated after authorities found "inhumane" living conditions.
Feces, vermin and trash were found in the uninhabitable building located at 805 W. 57th St. in the Vermont-Slauson neighborhood, spokesman for L.A. Councilman Curren D. Price said.
The "New Heaven & Earth Christian Center" building had no electricity or running water for months, and wasn't designed for residential habitation since it was zoned for commercial use, according to authorities.
Some of the building's evacuated residents told KTLA they were paying as much as $700 in rent but the landlord refused to get the building up to code after numerous complaints.
Price organized a task force to look into illegal activity going on at the location and close it down.
“We came across this location, and upon further review we noticed we noticed a lot of inhumane conditions,” Price's spokesman James Westbrooks said. “We coordinated the efforts to close the location, but before we did that, we had to find alternate locations for people.”
Officials said seniors, people with disabilities, children and families were found living in the building. Video showed roach-covered piles of trash covering the floors, holes riddling the walls and dirt coating the appliances in what appeared to be a communal kitchen.
Standing outside the building from which former tenants were seen lugging out large TVs and bags, Price said authorities will be working on prosecuting those responsible for the "horrible" living conditions.
“Really unconscionable — the conditions that people were forced to live in here," Price said. "They’re going to get relocated to safer, sanitary conditions."
Authorities said there have been dozens of calls regarding illegal activity in the building over the past year, including reports of drug abuse, assault, child abuse and child neglect.
The building doesn’t have fire protection systems that are up to code, according to L.A. Fire Department Capt. Branden Silverman.
“Our primary goal is the safety of all residents and, fortunately, there are places for these people to go so they won't be on the streets," Silverman said.
Tenants forced out of the building were assigned to five different temporary housing locations, according to Price's spokesman.
The landlord, who residents said is a pastor, could not be reached for comment.
One tenant, Bobby Miller, described police kicking down the door and coming in. He said he was upset over the evacuation.
“We don’t know what to do or where to go,” Miller said.
Another tenant, Verlton Glaspie, said officers told residents to leave the building and didn’t let them bring their belongings with them at first.
“They’re putting us out for no reason,” Glaspie said.
The Los Angeles Police Department, LAFD and several other agencies were involved in the investigation.
Officials said there’s an existing criminal case in the city for the property's owner, but didn't provide details.
Fire officials said they're working closely with the owner to possibly bring the building up to code.
The evacuation comes amid growing concerns over the housing crisis in Los Angeles and the increasing homelessness rate in the city. The number of people living on the streets, in vehicles and in shelters in the city of Los Angeles increased by about 16% over last year, the Los Angeles Times reported.
There are 59,000 homeless people in the county, and 36,000 of them were in the city of Los Angeles, the Times reported, citing Board of Supervisors data.