Life goes on in dilapidated apartments on verge of collapse

By Quynh Tran   March 25, 2022 | 11:18 pm PT
Long-standing residents don't plan on moving out of HCMC apartments said to be on verge of collapse until they receive a better compensation and relocation deal.
Apartment 440 Tran Hung Dao B (District 5) was constructed during the French period and currently houses 23 households.  The Department of Construction sent a document to the Peoples Committee of Ho Chi Minh City in early March regarding the urgent relocation of households. According to the assessment, the structure has a dangerous level of D-class building - the structures bearing capacity cannot meet the needs of normal use, the appearance of an overall dangerous situation, and the need to be relocated or demolished. Unloading in an emergency.

In early March, the municipal Department of Construction sent a document to the HCMC People's Committee requesting that 23 households living in the apartment complex at 440 Tran Hung Dao Street in District 5 be relocated immediately. It said that the building has been deemed unsafe and emphasized the critical importance of relocation and demolition.
The structure was built during the French colonial period (1884-1945).

The apartment is accessed via a narrow staircase, and the walls have deteriorated over time. The corridor on the ground floor is quite crowded because people use it to trade and arrange living things.  According to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Construction, while the apartment buildings exterior appears to be solid, the interior and overall condition is hazardous, with a high risk of subsidence.

The entrance to the apartment complex is crowded with food and beverage vendors. The significant deterioration of walls and narrow staircase leading to the apartments is obvious.
According to the construction department, while the exterior of the apartment building appears to be in good condition, the interior and overall condition is hazardous, with a high risk of collapse.

The general structure has deteriorated after more than a half-century of use. The outside of the electrical wires is disorganized and moldy, and the paint and mortar layers are peeling away, revealing the iron and steel inside.

Outside the building, rudimentary electricity connections are haphazardly arranged. The paint and mortar are peeling away, exposing the iron and steel underneath.

Some of the apartment balconys bearing columns were also broken, and the iron railings were rusted. Aside from that, there are long cracked walls.

Some of the apartment's reinforcing balcony columns are cracked, iron railings rusted, and walls riddled with cracks, too.

The electrical system is outdated, smoky, and potentially hazardous.

The electricity supply system is old and looks risky to operate.

Residents are mostly Chinese people who have lived in the area for a long time. Because apartment number 440/10 on the second floor is at the end of the block, the family of Mrs. Ha Thi Bay, 74, can expand the balcony and create a separate door to increase the usable area.

The majority of residents in this complex are Chinese who have lived in the area for a long time.
Ha Thi Bay, who lives in the last apartment on the second floor, has created her own separate door on the balcony to expand her living space.

Her house is 16 m2 in size and has housed a family of six for more than 40 years. When it was first built, this structure was a hotel, but it has since been renovated and converted into apartments. Every household here is so small, including mine, that its very crowded when my children return home at night Ms. Bay stated.

Her family of six has lived in this 16-square-meter room for more than 40 years.
"This structure was originally built as a hotel, but it has since been renovated and converted into apartments. Every house here, including mine, is so small. When my children return home at night, it's extremely crowded," the 74-year-old said.

Bay stated that the family is fortunate to live in the last apartment, as they can use the corner of the balcony to dry clothes and set up a kitchen, despite the fact that the area is only about one square meter, which is only enough for one person to cook.

She considers herself fortunate to live at the end of the row, where she can use the balcony corner to dry clothes and set up a kitchen.
Her kitchen has an area of about one square meter and can only accommodate one person at a time.

The storage of two more sewing machines in a small apartment full of furniture makes the space of 60-year-old Nguyen Thi Cuc even more cramped. She stated that the family has two children.

Nguyen Thi Cuc's tiny living space is made even more cramped and cluttered by two sewing machines, a fridge, a television set and other appliances and furniture. The 60-year-old woman lives here with her child.

Mrs. Cucs toilet area is cramped and cluttered. According to the owner, the households here did not have toilets until about 40 years ago. Later, when many new houses were renovated, they added more bathing, kitchen, and toilet facilities...

Cuc's restroom is also cramped and cluttered. According to the owner, toilets were not installed in the homes here until about 40 years ago, when many new families renovated their apartments and started to add restrooms and kitchens.

Ms. Tran Nghi Nhans house is also small, so she had to expand her loft in order to live there. At its heaviest, the family consisted of eight people. Now that the children and grandchildren have left, there are only three people left According to the 64-year-old woman.

Tran Nghi Nhan, who lives nearby, said she built a loft to get more usable space.
"We used to have a total of eight people living here. There are only three people left after our children and grandchildren moved out," the 64-year-old woman said.

Following the urgent petition for relocation and dismantling, the District 5 Peoples Committee charged the Compensation Committee with coordinating with the District 6 Peoples Committee to contact, mobilize, and persuade people to relocate to apartments in the An Phu apartment building.  However, households have not agreed to temporarily reside in District 6 apartments, requesting that the State spend money to allow the family to rent elsewhere and calculate the compensation unit price for the apartments satisfactorily.

Following the urgent petition for relocation and dismantling, the District 5 People's Committee asked the compensation committee to coordinating with District 6 People's Committee to contact, mobilize and convince people to relocate to apartments in the An Phu apartment. The An Phu apartment complex is located in District 6.
However, the remaining families have not agreed to move to their temporary accommodation for resettlement in District 6. They want officials to give them money so they can pick their own rented accommodation elsewhere until they reach compensation agreements.
HCMC currently has 474 old and downgraded apartment buildings built before 1975 that have to be rebuilt or undergo massive renovation.

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