Flight attendants returned Thursday to a makeshift apartment in an East Boston service garage after it was condemned by city officials.
The garage on Geneva Street, near Logan International Airport, is under control of the City of Boston after inspectors said the property owner did not have authorization to convert the commercial space into housing. John Meaney of Boston Inspectional Services described the unit as a "death trap."
Officials said the owner of the building turned the second floor into four bedrooms with bunkbeds and two bathrooms, meant to house up to 20 people – typically flight attendants.
The airline workers had been staying in the "crash pad" between flights. Three people who had resided there didn't say anything Thursday as they packed up belongings.
City Councilor Lydia Edwards says this is an opportunity for Boston to take a lead in a housing issue.
"I think what we're failing to do is to offer this group of individuals real options," she said. "We need to meet the moment with creativity."
Crash pads are common in the airline industry and are found around Logan.
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"You live in Miami, but your base is in Charlotte, so I would have to get a crash pad in Charlotte in order for me to fly in the day prior, sleep in the crash pad, waiting till I get called," a former flight attendant told NBC10 Boston.
NBC10 Boston reached out the property owner on Wednesday evening. While he did not want to go on camera, the owner said he rented the second floor of the building to a woman, who he alleges then sublet the space, adding all the extra beds — without his knowledge.
Francis Amador lives nearby and never suspected anything was wrong.
“I have lived here for 23 years and I have seen flight attendants come in and out every day,” Amador said. "I have complained to the city because they have a lot of trash there and a lot of rats come out of that place because of that. But I never, never thought that that was illegal and there were many, many people living there.”
On Tuesday, city and fire department inspectors found a slew of violations including dangerous health and safety conditions, missing smoke detectors, no second exit, and a damaged fire alarm among others.
Those renting a bed there were reportedly paying $300 a month.
"We don't believe any of them use this as a home base, but they're crash pads and they live there, they sleep there, they eat there," said Meaney. "So it's residential, it's illegal and its dangerous."
Boston ISD said it’s common for airline employees to stay in crash pads in East Boston, but this one was not compliant.
"Either he'll go on to try to legalize it, or we're going to have him dismantle it," Meaney said of the building's owner.
The owner of the property isn't facing any criminal charges or fines. He said he will be working with the city to get things in order.
Inspectors said this is the first time they've encountered this issue in this part of the city, and they encourage residents to call 311 if something doesn't look right.