Larry and Kennethia Jones were moving out of their apartment on Benkard Avenue on Monday while their son and daughter were at school to avoid worrying them about the family's precarious living situation.
Until this month, the Joneses had been putting their money in an escrow account.
They said they had been trying to get the landlord to fix the heat, get rid of mold in the bathroom, and get rid of mice whose droppings are found in all corners of the apartment.
On Monday afternoon, when he went into the basement searching for the source of a smell that had been bothering the family for months, Larry shrieked when he accidentally stepped into a pool of sewage.
The problems have been especially concerning to the Joneses since their 7-year-old daughter has sickle cell disease, which requires clean and comfortable living conditions.
Despite the apparent violations and the precaution taken by holding rent money in escrow, the Joneses were evicted and given no extension past April 1; several other families were also evicted by the same landlord.
"We tried to be nice. I'm not being nice anymore," Kennethia said. "Nobody's going to force me out of something that you didn't take care of in the first place."
Joseph Rabess, whose family owns the building, told Spectrum News over the weekend that the apartment was "just fine" the last time he saw it.
"I can tell you, when they moved into that building, there was nothing wrong with it," Rabess said. "When they moved into the apartment, there was nothing wrong, absolutely nothing wrong."
Code enforcement concluded the opposite, and on Monday, inspectors condemned the building.
Records shared by the building department show the building and another nearby building, which is also owned by the Rabess family, had been condemned since 2015 because multiple violations were never fixed.
Additionally, the units inside those buildings were not registered with the City of Newburgh, a requirement in order to rent.
In essence, the Rabess family never should have rented the unit to the Joneses in the first place.
"If he's collecting rent on these buildings and they're rented out, there's no reason why he can't be responsible," said Ward #2 Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde in an interview Monday afternoon.
She said the city council and building department have begun keeping better track of landlords who do not register units and illegally rent out condemned buildings.
Because of this stricter policy, Monteverde said to expect more buildings to be condemned.
"The old days of 'I'll collect the rent and I don't have to put a lot of money into my properties' are no longer," she said.
The flip side is unfortunate, since there is little relief in the form of clean, affordable housing in Newburgh.
While the council mulls over policy ideas to create more affordable housing in the future, presently the stricter code enforcement policy is stressing out families like the Joneses.
"We have the money to move," Kennethia said. "We just haven't found a place to move to."
She laughed, but then facepalmed, again recognizing that the family has just several hours to find a new home.