Olbiston update: Where are the residents and what’s happening with the building?

58 residents from the Olbistion Apartments were asked to leave, and time is running out for them to find a new place to stay.

Posted: Jul 28, 2021 6:00 PM
Updated: Jul 28, 2021 6:13 PM

UTICA, N.Y. -- There’s been some movement in the Supreme Court case between the City of Utica and Rizaro Utica, LLC, the current owner of the Olbistion Apartments. The city has tried to get the courts to resolve a number of codes issues throughout the building. The case is going on three years, but Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri says the court has made a ruling.

"The Supreme Court…the Judge has ruled is giving them 90 days to make sure that they make the proper corrections to the building," he said.

Fixing the codes violations is likely not going to happen, but the city may have found another way to resolve the issues plaguing the Olbistion. New ownership.

"The potential owners are someone that we feel very confident will be able to restore the building to the level that we’re all looking forward to seeing."

The court case against the current owner needs to be resolved, and the codes violations would have to be addressed, but the news does sound promising... at least for some. Former Olbiston Resident James Kelsey chimed in. 

"Now if they kept the rent the same, and the living conditions improve, well why not go back over there? You know it could save a few bucks you know on monthly rent," said Kelsey.

The more recent residents may not be so excited. City of Utica Codes Commissioner Marques Phillips explains why right now it’s difficult to put a number on how many are still looking for permanent housing.

"People see 60 people, and they put them all into one category, but you got people that have mental health issues, you have people that might be hard to place for other reasons, and then you got people that are cash payers," said Phillips. "That aren’t hard to place. You have people with pets."

The City is hoping by next week to have a better idea how many still need permanent housing. Until then all the agencies involved are working to meet the needs of the residents without a place to stay. ICAN Chief Program Officer Allison Jackson says there's a shortage of low income housing, but all agencies involved are doing what they can to find suitable housing. 

"We’re trying to really work with folks on their basic necessities," she said. "What they can possibly get out of their apartments right now, and then you know where they’re going to go next, so rehousing is very important, but it’s also at their pace."

They may have to pick up the pace as Friday July 30 is the deadline to get out of the Olbiston. The city will be closing the building down completely on Monday, Aug. 2, but the city will still provide residents an opportunity to get their things out.

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