An elderly woman in Van Nuys was hurt when the ceiling in her apartment came crashing down on her and her dog. Residents of the apartment complex say many of the units are at risk of having the same thing happen if nothing is done.
The Barajas family has lived at the apartment complex on the 14400 block of Vose Street in Van Nuys for more than 20 years. They first noticed a crack in the ceiling some time ago and immediately complained to management, but they say those concerns fell on deaf ears.
Now a “Red Tagged” sign is visible on the front door of the apartment as the family waits to hear from city inspectors. The red color-coded sign means the building is unsafe to occupy.
On Sunday, Alvaro Barajas was in the other room of the home when he heard a loud crashing sound from the living room.
“The worst thing you can think of just ran through my mind when I heard my mom cry for help,” Alvaro Barajas told KTLA.
When he came to the living room, he found his mother and dog under rubble of the ceiling that had just given way.
“My mom noticed the crack getting bigger and just in a matter of minutes she was on the phone with management when it collapsed on her,” Alvaro said.
Barajas says his mother had a bump on her head, scratches and bruises. She was taken to the hospital where she was later released. The family dog got the worst of it.
“Fractured pelvis, fractured hip and a broken rib,” Alvaro Barajas said.
They first noticed the crack about 20 days ago and watched as it grew larger and larger in the living room. The bedrooms also have cracks or a drooping ceiling. Barajas said his mother had called the property managers, Landmark Realty and Property Management. for weeks nothing was ever done.
Now Alvaro says his elderly mother is traumatized and can’t sleep at night.
Their story isn’t a unique one. Right across the courtyard, there is a yellow tagged apartment allowing limited entry to another flat with a support beam to hold up the ceiling. The yellow denotes that residents can go into the structure to get their belongings, but it’s not safe for long periods of time.
Neighbor Leonardo Herrera says his family has told management about the potential for ceiling collapses for several years, filling out multiple complaint forms and yet nothing happened until his neighbor had theirs cave in.
“We have the same crack on our roof. Every apartment here in the complex has that issue but the property, the landlord, the manager is hiding it from its tenants,” Herrera said. “It puts my family and myself in danger.”
The Herreras, like their many neighbors, grew up in this apartment and don’t want to leave. They just want to feel safe and say it starts with repairs being made.
The Barajas family is currently staying with relatives living in the same complex. A manager for the complex told KTLA she is aware of the complaints and they are working to get everything fixed. A city inspector is expected to arrive Wednesday before the ceiling can be repaired.