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HEARING SET ON THE FATE OF INFESTED HOUSE

A hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Monday to determine what will be done with a house at 335 Vermont St. that police evacuated Wednesday because it was infested with cockroaches.

The four adult residents, whom police declined to identify, remained in Erie County Medical Center Thursday.

"I have given the owners an opportunity to explain how the house can be saved," said Housing Court Judge Michael L. Broderick. "I felt it would be appropriate to stay at least until 2 p.m. on Monday to give the attorney of the owners a chance to show the property can be saved. There are other issues to work out, too, not the least of which is the interest of the neighbors."

Broderick said that if the property were demolished now, the tenants would lose everything they own.

"I also feel it's essential that the tenants, who may not be completely in control of their own lives, would have some form of representation in these proceedings," Broderick said.

No health or social services agency knew that there was a problem with the residents, and the four adults were not under the care of any mental-health agency, according to Common Council Member Robert Quintana of the Niagara District. They were, however, receiving Social Security disability checks, he said.

"When we were tipped off by neighbors, we tried to get the (Erie County) Health Department and the police to go down, but it took a few weeks because nobody (in the house) would let them in or answer the door," Quintana said. Quintana said that he also tried to get the landlord, Giuseppina Deleo, to go to the house but that she was "uncooperative."

Ms. Deleo said Thursday that some neighbors called her a few weeks ago and told her that the house was filled with cockroaches.

"I called them (the people who lived there) and told them that we'd send an exterminator the next day," Ms. Deleo said. "But the woman who lived there said we couldn't do that because she had asthma."

Ms. Deleo said the occupants would not let anyone into the house and did not answer the telephone.

Quintana said he was at the site Thursday and asked the city to declare it an emergency demolition. But before a demolition can occur, he said, traps must be set to avoid the spread of the cockroaches, which may carry diseases. He said at least 16 of the more than 20 cats found in the house had to be destroyed.

Ms. Deleo said she thought that everything was fine in the house.

"We will be billing the owner for the demolition," Quintana said. "Lack of attention to the property doesn't excuse the situation."

Quintana said his office is working on arrangements for the occupants to find shelter after they are released from ECMC.

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