Springfield apartment house owned by Chris Gatley could be torn down

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. A man paid for an apartment in Springfield but when it was time to move in, he discovered it wasn't fit to live in.

We first told you about Jonathan Richter Tuesday. The 22 year-old has been homeless, off and on for a few years.

He signed a lease for an apartment with New Vacancy, a company owned by Chris Gatley. Richter soon learned the unit was in disrepair. With the help of his friend, Jack Norman-Hodges, he was able to file a complaint with the city.

Wednesday morning, a city inspector deemed the property to be a 'dangerous building.'

Norman-Hodges was with that inspector as he looked over the rental unit.

"When we walked in his first impression was, I can't believe they would have rented this," he said.

Norman-Hodges said the inspector was shocked by the condition of the apartment.

He said, "As he's going through taking pictures, looking, he's just shaking his head, going I don't believe this. He said, "I've seen bad properties, this is one of the worst."

Norman-Hodges wrote to every city council member about this problem. He called the city several times for help too before he called us. He thinks our story may have helped the process happen more quickly.

"You've contacted them. I think they realized that and Chris Gatley property and here we go again," he said.

Harlan Hill, Director of Building Development Services for Springfield, said, "I'm sure your report has aided in the awareness not only for the community but for others involved."

His department manages all of the property complaints and inspections.

"We are familiar with the owner of this property and based on other properties that we have had to deal with we were expecting the nature of this to be significant," he explained.

The damage to the structure was significant enough for the inspector to post 'dangerous building' notice, letting people know it's unsafe to even step foot inside.

"The current owner will be required to correct the deficiencies or then it may move to a demolition ordered by our department," said Hill.

Hill said the city is committed to safe, affordable housing.

"Our charge is life, safety and welfare. This is a high priority for us," he explained.

Norman-Hodges and Richter are grateful that the city stepped in so quickly.

"To think that there's people like Chris who take advantage of people that are in need," Jack Norman-Hodges said, with tears in his eyes.

Norman-Hodges said he will continue to fight for people like Richter.

"I'm not stopping after this. I'll do whatever I can to help," he said.

We called New Vacancy to speak with Chris Gatley about this and was only able to leave a message.

He has 45 days to fix all of the problems with the building before a hearing is scheduled to decide if it should be torn down.

Richter has received an outpouring of support from the community. He will be off the streets and into an apartment on March first with the help of the Hearts for the Homeless organization.