Dozens of residents were evicted from a well-known rooming house in downtown Quakertown Wednesday, after officials declared the building unsafe for human habitation due to alleged health and safety violations.
Borough officials announced the condemnation of the historic Bush House Hotel at 200 W. Broad Street in a news release that was shared on the borough’s website and its Facebook page. Photos of alleged violations inside the building were also shared online.
The news release indicated that inspections were recently carried out at the Bush House after officials fielded “numerous complaints from residents, the general public and first responders.”
“As a result of these inspections and in accordance with Section 108 of the 2009 International Property Maintenance Code, Quakertown Borough has found the Hotel to be unfit for human occupancy and hereby has condemned this Property effective immediately,” the news release said.
Among the alleged violations cited by officials Wednesday were:
- “Heavy bed bug and German roach infestation throughout the entire building, including multiple units on all floors, hallways and common areas, as well as infiltrating fire detection equipment and other electrical outlets and conduit.” They said the infestations had led to a “very large number of false alarms.”
- “Heavy debris, food waste and clutter (inside rooms) which can act as harborage and feeding areas for…insects.”
- Incomplete or inadequate repairs to damage the building sustained in an April 2018 fire which killed an elderly resident.
“Since this fire, the owner has only undertaken minimal renovations to this portion of the building, which is still not occupied,” officials said.
The Bush House Hotel is owned by Thomas Skiffington, MT Estate RTY LLC, 701 W. Market Street, Perkasie.
Speaking with Channel 69 News Wednesday, Skiffington called the allegations of code violations false and said he plans to sue as a result of his building’s condemnation.
The TV news station reported that Skiffington said he believes his building was condemned as part of a plot to remove low-income housing from downtown Quakertown; an allegation Quakertown fire marshal Douglas Wilhelm refuted within the same report.
Due to the degree of the infestations inside the building, officials said an exterminator who recently accompanied borough officials on an inspection of it recommended that “the entire building be treated with both a liquid and heat extermination program” which can only be completed after it is cleaned and while it is unoccupied.
After they were evicted, the roughly 60 Bush House residents were given the opportunity to shower in a “Decontamination Trailer,” given clean clothes, medically evaluated and taken to an evacuation center that was set up at Quakertown Borough Hall, officials said.
“At this evacuation center, residents are being re-evaluated medically; have the ability to receive food and water; and will meet with county and other governmental and non-profit agencies concerning new housing options,” the news release said.
The borough also shared a PayPal link which individuals can use to donate “to protect the health and safety of the residents of the Bush House Hotel.”
The complete list of alleged code violations may be found on the borough’s website.