Common Pleas Court Judge Mark I. Bernstein, who issued the emergency order for the meeting, set a hearing for this afternoon to determine whether the building's owners had worked out a plan with the the city Department of Licenses and Inspections to make the needed repairs.
L&I spokesman Matthew Schirano said the building had 17 open violations before inspectors shut down the apartments Saturday because vandals had ripped out 35 feet of copper piping, ruining the plumbing. A newly repaired fire-alarm system also was destroyed.
"The water going off completely is an ongoing thing," said Richard Jones, 35, who returned yesterday afternoon from a weekend in New York to find he was shut out of his apartment. "It's been happening for the past month and a half."
Jones, who is staying with a friend, said he had been a Lindley Court tenant for eight months. He said the only problems he had encountered had been "with management."
"The biggest problem with this building is the owner doesn't want to repair it. That's the biggest problem. Other than that, it's sound," Jones said.
The building was bought in 2004 for $2.5 million by Lindley Estates L.L.C., which lists an address in the 1500 block of Ripley Street. The property taxes are paid up to date, according to the Board of Revision of Taxes.
The phone number posted for the building's leasing office was disconnected.
L&I declared the apartments unsanitary and bolted the doors because the building lacked running water and the fire-alarm system was broken.
Residents said they were rushed out, with some of them unable to secure their belongings. While many cats wandered around the premises and a few peeked out of windows, few observers believe they are pets that were left behind. Some residents said many of them were strays hunting the many rodents in the building.
George Bengal, director of investigations at the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said he was assured by L&I that no pets had been left behind. Bengal said the city agency told him it would search the complex "floor by floor" this morning to make sure.
Claude Evans, 25, who has lived in the complex for more than two years, said he had had problems with everything from exposed wiring in the hallways to trash that hadn't been picked up for more than four weeks.
"None of my family wants to come here because it's infested," Evans said.
Police have been guarding the four-story brick building since the weekend, under orders to protect the site from further vandalism and allow residents to get household items. However, residents were unable to get in because the entrances remained locked and sealed off with yellow caution tape.
Meanwhile, a steady stream of tenants arrived, confused about the building's status and lacking answers about when they could return.
Plumbers and Philadelphia Gas Works employees were also on the scene, waiting for word from the city on when they could begin repairs.
"We figured this would be up and running by today, but there's so many problems," said Evans, who added that the repairs could be prolonged by sewage problems in the basement caused by the vandalism.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the American Red Cross has provided hotel rooms since Saturday for 99 people from 37 families, said Denise Venuti Free, an agency spokeswoman. Other residents found accommodations on their own. The Red Cross originally intended to hold the residents through last night, and Free was unsure whether it would extend the deadline.
Contact staff writer Nick Pipitone at 610-313-8175 or email@example.com.
Inquirer staff writer Andrew Maykuth contributed to this article.