On January 17, the Champaign City Council will consider approving the expenditure of up to $350,000 to provide temporary emergency housing in the near term for tenants displaced from Champaign Park Apartments. The City has been actively assisting tenants at the apartment complex since late last year when several buildings were condemned for life-safety reasons. The extreme weather conditions combined with the large number of displaced tenants created a public safety emergency, and the City provided temporary accommodations in local hotels when Champaign Park Apartments failed to promptly provide displaced tenants with alternate housing. As of January 11, 380 apartments across 35 buildings at Champaign Park Apartments are condemned and 56 households are staying in local hotels.
Residents at Champaign Park Apartments began reporting heating problems to the City last October. City inspectors investigated and initially condemned several apartment buildings that were without heat and unlivable during the winter. The City received a Court Order on November 18, 2022, requiring the property owner (Champaign Apartments Owner LLC) to move tenants from the unsafe buildings and provide them with alternate housing until repairs were completed. The Order further stated that if the owner failed to do so, they were required to reimburse the City for providing accommodations to displaced households. When the property owners failed to provide alternate housing, the City stepped in to provide displaced tenants with safe accommodations at local hotels.
In December, property managers at Champaign Park Apartments made some building repairs and all tenants initially housed in hotels were able to either move to other housing or return to a unit at Champaign Park Apartments. However, during the extreme weather event December 22-24, the City received multiple calls for service from tenants at the complex due to a lack of heat, water, and/or significant flooding. Due to the public safety emergency caused by the extremely cold temperatures and the large number of affected tenants, the City again provided temporary hotel accommodations for households who were not immediately provided alternate housing by Champaign Park Apartments. City inspectors investigated and subsequently condemned additional buildings due to a lack of heat, water, and/or hot water, or prior fire damage. The City received another Court Order on December 30 that required the property owner to vacate the condemned buildings and provide alternate housing for displaced tenants. The Order also authorizes the City to seek reimbursement at a later date for reasonable expenses related to housing displaced tenants.
In addition to temporary housing the City is providing active case management and sharing resources with residents impacted by this situation. The City has also engaged local government partners and community service agencies who are also providing aid to displaced households.