A view of the house at 316 S. Union St., Warsaw, where Darwin Busz has lived for more than 30 years. The house has been condemned. Photo by Dan Spalding, InkFree News.
A view of the house at 316 S. Union St., Warsaw, where Darwin Busz has lived for more than 30 years. The house has been condemned. Photo by Dan Spalding, InkFree News.
Efforts to move people out of unsafe living conditions are not always easy.

Ongoing attempts by the city of Warsaw and several agencies to help a Warsaw man find new housing and get out of his condemned residence seemed to hit a stalemate Tuesday.

The city became aware of problems with the house at 316 S. Union St. when police investigated illegal drug use in the residence in 2021 and discovered residents were living without some basic utilities. That led to an inspection by code enforcement which led to the discovery of numerous building violations.

An attempt by Warsaw Housing Authority to help with some repairs fell apart after contractors refused to work alongside tenants involved in suspected illegal drug activity.

A representative of Adult Protective Services tried to work with the owner, Darwin Busz, and had found an apartment at the new senior housing complex, 802 Center, but Busz balked at the $1,125 monthly rent.

Sarah Strahan Lenfesty, an investigator for Adult Protective Services of St. Joseph County, told officials at a code enforcement hearing Tuesday that Busz’s income is above the threshold for rental assistance.

Busz also has an offer to sell the South Union Street house for $20,00 (plus help with additional expenses) from a local firm that rehabs homes. The potential buyer, David Haab, attended Tuesday's meeting and expressed dismay that Busz was apparently not motivated.

Haab said he reached a purchase agreement with Busz in March and that they are expected to close by May 31. No closing date has been set yet. Haab said he'll continue to work with Busz for a few more weeks.

“If this doesn’t fly, I’ll just find another project,” Haab said.

On top of all that, Busz failed to attend Tuesday's meeting.

Contacted after Tuesday’s meeting, Busz acknowledged that he missed the meeting and that he had already heard from the city.

The house has been condemned and an order to demolish was made in January.

Busz said he knows he needs to move and find a new place and that he has a chance to sell it his home.

He works full-time at LSC Communications and said he’s close to retirement age.

He’s owned the house for some 30 years but said things went downhill after his wife died two years ago following an extended illness. He also referenced troubles involving his adult children’s use of drugs. One is in jail and another is wanted on a warrant, he said.

He said he’s not good at using the internet and is leery of using his phone for such things after he said it was hacked.

“Finding a place is my main problem because I don't know how to go online and do that,” he said.

Code enforcement officials decided to review the case again on June 28.

During the meeting, officials said they would reach out to him and make it clear the city is ready to demolish the property.

Building inspector Ray Behling said the fact Busz doesn't qualify for rental assistance can be viewed as a good thing.

“There are apartments out there for less than $1,100,” Behling said.

Hearing officer Thomas Earhart warned that he could move forward and activate the demolition order if there is no cooperation from Busz.

“I don’t particularly want to do that, but I’m not so certain that under the circumstances, that I have much choice,” Earhart said.

In other matters:

Skyteam Properties is making progress on the final improvements and will not have to provide monthly updates as the work continues, it was decided. Skyteam was fined thousands of dollars in recent months for lack of progress in bringing two properties up to code. The final required work is being done at 303 S. Indiana St.

Officials also learned that a house on the verge of being demolished has been sold. The duplex at 214 N. Fort Wayne Ave. has been sold and will be renovated, according to Ben Haab, who is the son of David Haab (mentioned above).