By Shirin Rajaee

MODESTO (CBS13) — Dozens of Modesto residents say they’re stuck living in squalor with poor living conditions and unresponsive landlords and are demanding the city do more to protect its tenants.

“The city should close these places down, make everyone move out cause it’s just not a livable place,” said one renter Karen Garcia.

Many say the city isn’t doing enough to oversee apartments that are not being managed well. And now City officials are considering establishing a program that would allow to the city to inspect rental properties

The city held the second of two community meetings Monday night to get public input on creating such a program. Some say the majority of landlords in Modesto do take care of their rentals but add that there are hundreds of families living in disgusting, unhealthy conditions.

“All they do is give us the rat traps and cockroach spray and tell us to clean it. But it’s not solving the issue,” said Garcia.

It’s been an emotional roller coaster for Garcia. She says in the last month, she and her husband have caught dozens of rats in her Modesto rental home, and her landlord has not taken her complaints seriously.

“Maybe about 50-80 rats…in our home,” she said.

Garcia walked us through her rental property off Paradise Road, showing us the built-up mold on the kitchen walls, and along the window sills of her kid’s bedroom.

“It’s black mold and it’s growing in all the rooms. It’s just nasty but what is one gonna do when you can’t afford to move,” she said.

In the bathroom more mold along the walls and ceiling and cockroaches coming out of holes.

“We have to live like this, and we’re poor,” she said.

It’s an issue that Garcia doesn’t face Alone as voiced in Monday night’s community meeting. The city of Modesto does not currently have a rental inspection program in the city but they now recognize the need and that many tenants won’t speak up in fear of retaliation or becoming homeless.

“A lot of these people aren’t going to make complaints because if they do and we find the conditions to be substandard or unsafe, then we’re gonna remove them and they’ll have no place to go,” said Bert Lippert, the city’s Building safety program coordinator.

Lippert adds, “We need something to get us into all the properties we can’t just wait.”

Modesto now looking to the public to help brainstorm ideas for an inspection program to help mitigate these issues.

“They need to inspect all the houses, and register landlords so we can get an idea of who has problem properties,” said Modesto resident Kim Martinez.

But Some landlords say more regulation and fees are unfair to the property owners who do take care of their properties.

“The legitimate landlords already do this, we do inspections all the time, we don’t think we need to do more do inspections,” said residential rental business owner, Marvin Dole.

Meanwhile, Garcia says her little girl has developed respiratory issues that she believes is tied to these unsanitary conditions and she hopes the city steps up.

“The city should close these places down, make everyone move out cause it’s just not a livable place,” said Garcia.

Monday’s meeting was just a brainstorming session. All the information will now head to the city council.

No program is in place yet

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