Evacuated Horizon West Condo Owners Continue to Face Financial Uncertainty | Waukesha County News
WAUKESHA – Despite the September deadline to demolish the dilapidated Horizon West condo building, condo owners still face financial uncertainty and hurdles.
“My daughter and I have been traumatized and my budget is currently collapsing,” Carlos Bergin said in a statement. He lived in Horizon West for six years and still owes over $50,000 on his Horizon West mortgage. “I was stuck in motels that I couldn’t afford for about three or four months until I found an apartment. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone!”
Horizon West residents were evacuated from their homes on 15 minutes’ notice on December 2 due to an imminent risk of collapse.
The city issued a shaving order in January for the Horizon West building, which residents appealed. Residents continue to pay their old mortgages, finance new living arrangements and may have to pay the bill for the demolition of the building.
According to condo owner Laurel Peterson, the razing order “requires owners to provide over $1 million in funds to complete the demolition, which includes special asbestos abatement due to the materials used during the construction of Horizon West in 1966. If the association can’t come up with those funds and remove the building within 120 days, then the city will make its own arrangements to demolish it at the city’s expense and bill the owners under the form of a tax lien,” she said in a statement. .
“I have no idea where I would find the money to pay for the demolition of the building, let alone find the money to pay a down payment on another house.” Mary O’Herron said in a statement. “Based on the sale price of the same floor plan with similar upgrades to mine, I believe I lost about $130,000 in equity. That’s money I would have used if I chose to move to be closer to my adult children and their families, or if I needed to move to an assisted living facility.
All owners of Horizon West were required to carry homeowners insurance for their unit, and the condo association also had an insurance policy through Travelers Insurance for common areas and the structure of the building as a whole, said Peterson.
“That’s exactly why people buy insurance, but unfortunately there’s no specific ‘imminent collapse’ insurance that we could have bought,” Peterson said in a statement. Peterson, his wife and daughter lived in Horizon West for two years and owe over $100,000 on their mortgage. “If Travelers turns us down and we don’t get any help, that sends a message to condo owners everywhere that you run the risk of losing everything at any time and your insurance is worthless,” Peterson said.
In April, 27 of the condo owners filed a $17 million lawsuit against Travelers Insurance for failure to pay claims.
Travelers Insurance will not comment on pending litigation.
Horizon West has insured the building for a new cost of over $17 million.
The suit added that the building is a total loss.
“In its latest cover letter, Travelers goes so far as to say that since the issue of the razing order, there is no cover but if the building collapses, Travelers could cover,” said the suit.
Many owners have had to restart their retirement plans or return to work after retiring.
“My wife and children had finally convinced me to retire at 78,” RJ Esposito said in a statement. Esposito lived with his wife, Pat, in Horizon West for four years. He retired a few hours earlier on the day of the evacuation. “It completely upended our retirement plans. I’m working again, but at 78 I don’t have the energy I had 5 or 10 years ago, so I don’t know how long I can go on,” he said. Some residents had to declare bankruptcy.
“This has undermined my credit and bankruptcy is imminent,” Todd Dreger said in a statement. Dreger lived in Horizon West for four years and had $30,000 in equity as well as a $100,000 mortgage. “It has disrupted our financial planning, and my significant other has major health issues. I will not be able to retire as I had planned.
Condo owner Robert Berry worries about financial uncertainty.
“Imagine having to buy two houses in one year. We are devastated and traumatized,” Berry said in a statement. “Paying two mortgages while only being able to live in one place is unaffordable for anyone. This will force us to file for bankruptcy and ruin our perfect credit.
A GoFundMe account has been created for Horizon West Condominium owners to help offset the financial burden they are facing. It can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-48-evacuated-families.