‘Are we going to end up homeless?' Chelmsford condo complex facing condemnation

The owners have until mid-July to submit a repair plan to the Town of Chelmsford or face eviction. The problem is, repairs come with a million-dollar price tag

NBC Universal, Inc.

Thirty families could soon end up without a home after the town of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, found concerning structural damages at Milestone Condo.

Many of the residents of the building on Chelmsford Street are low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities. They now face a seemingly impossible task: find over a million dollars for the repairs necessary to keep their condos from being condemned by the town.



Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.


Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

“We need someone to help us,” said long-time resident Audrey Hadfield.

Audrey, 87, and her husband Peter, 96, have lived at Milestone Condos for 30 years. They paid off their mortgage, have no family and say they have no place to go if evicted in July.

“It's making us ill. It really is shortening what little life we have left,” said Hadfield, “The worry of being displaced, having no money, and there's only a small amount in the bank.”

Similar stories echo in the hallways of the 60-year-old building. Many of the residents we spoke with are struggling to find immediate solutions.

“Oh, they'll probably foreclose on me,” said Karen O’Neil. O'Neil has been living at Milestone Condos for 20 years and said she postponed her retirement as a result of the situation. “The rent is so high you really can't find anything. Most of it is like $2,200 to $2,500,” said O’Neil.

Nancy Kirkland raised her children at Milestone Condos, and now she fears they may be her only hope.

“I can't afford a loan, and I can't afford to take on a triple mortgage,” Kirkland said, “I'm probably going to end up living with my kids.” 

Meanwhile, Hovhannes Aghazaryan and his wife are looking for answers to comfort their two teenagers.

“They heard about all this stuff, they were giving me questions like, what are we going to do? Are we going to end up homeless?” said Aghazaryan.

Oluwaseyi Obafemi moved from Nigeria just about a year ago and purchased his first property in February at the building, completely unaware of the situation.

“I can't get any loans right now, so, you know, I'm in the limbo. I don't have families in this country. I don't know where else to turn to,” said Obafemi.

Now they’re all hoping for a miracle, as they have until mid-July to submit a repair plan to the Town of Chelmsford or face eviction. The problem is, repairs come with a million-dollar price tag.

“We don't want a situation where residents or visitors to the facility could be seriously injured or worse,” said Chelmsford’s Town Manager, Paul Cohen.

According to records from the Town of Chelmsford, in September 2022, firefighters responded to a fire alarm at Milestone Condos. Instead of smoke or flames, they found, “serious structural damages… creating a collapse concern.” Half the residents were evacuated immediately.

“It was pretty awful. I never want to do that again,” said Mrs. Hadfield, remembering the event.

“Police, I believe, paid two nights for us to stay in the Best Western down the street. And then the board members told us, if you're going to stay here, the rest is on you guys,” said O’Neil, worried about the expense of a similar scenario.

“We came back, and it had all this, woodwork, as you see now, helping to support it”, said Hadfield, referring to the temporary wooden support installed throughout the building, blocking the view of what once were open patios overlooking a center garden.

Jackson Viruet and his wife, Jaqueline, are the only Hispanic residents in the building. Jackson gave NBC10 Boston and Telemundo Nueva Inglaterra a tour of the building in Spanish.

“Mire, mire el daño acá. Acá fue peor. Parece que el agua se incrustó ahí,” said Viruet in Spanish, showing rotted wood seemingly damaged by water.

Town records show that in November 2023, Alpine, the condo’s property management company, hired another inspector for a new structural assessment who concluded, “the current temporary wood frame support system with the additional temporary support…is adequate for habitation through the winter of 2023/2024. Permanent repairs/reconstruction should commence in the Spring of 2024.”

In April, the Town of Chelmsford gave residents 90 days to come up with a solution.

“We need progress. We're not blaming we don't want to put anybody out of the building, but we need to see evidence that something's going to happen. Pull a building permit,” said Cohen.

In a letter to residents, Alpine Property Management said:

“We have been diligently trying to secure financing with a number of banks for the construction project but unfortunately, we have been unsuccessful…We inquired if we were able to get the building department to agree to complete the project in phases would a lesser amount for the loan be feasible, they have all stated that this would absolutely not be allowable. Because the town is forcing the repairs to be done now and we have been unable to secure financing, our only option is to assess each individual for the cost.”

Alpine was hired by the condo association board in 2022. At that time, structural concerns already existed.

On February 4, 2021, the condo association meeting minutes show they discussed rotted metal beams with the prior management company, which is no longer in business.

Residents told us they hired contractors to begin repairs but didn’t see the project through. Months later, they hired Alpine as their new property manager.

The two board members, who live in the building, have not responded to our emails or calls,  asking how the situation reached this point.

But in a condominium, who is responsible for the maintenance of the structure?

Just as the owner of a house is responsible for its maintenance, apartment owners in a condo are responsible for both the maintenance of their unit and the building. That’s why a board of trustees is selected by the condo owners. Board members are in charge of carrying out the budget and maintenance plan for the building. Since this can be a painstaking job, many condo associations choose to hire a residential management company. That way, the board mainly focuses on maintaining communication between the owners and the administrator, as well as bringing important decisions to a vote.

“We have a board of two people. And so far, they have not really communicated. And when you talk to them, it's always, I don't know, or I'll check. But they never get back to you,” said Kirkland.

Telemundo Nueva Inglaterra and NBC 10 Boston reached out to Chelmsford Housing, the Attorney General’s Office, and state representatives. Unfortunately, they say there are no federal, state, or other funds available to help families in this specific situation.  So far, no solutions are in sight.

Contact Us