Tahlequah Rooming House may be forced to close its doors; City leaders find multiple code violations

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - A Tahlequah rooming house may be forced to close its doors in 14 days.

Stepping Stone, the facility a 3-year-old was found dead in Wednesday morning, is facing multiple code violations.

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Tahlequah's mayor Jason Nichols says the building is in dire need of repairs. He says the rooming house has deplorable conditions and health and safety violations such as a roach infestation, fire hazards and lack of proper restroom facilities.

"We do have a pest problem, but we spray, we fog, we do everything we can," resident Heaven Braddy said.

The landlord says fixing the problems in two weeks is impossible. She fears the facility is going to be shut down.

"It's impossible for me financially to do it. It costs way to much. They want more bathrooms installed in the hallways. That's impossible," Stepping Stone Rooming House landlord Emma Presley said.

The landlord and the residents say the building has been like it is for years. They are angry that the mayor is forcing them to leave after the death of 3-year-old Dakota Sanders.

"The conditions are no different than what they were seven years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. Nothing changed ... I understand if it's a danger to people. I understand they want to shut us down if there is a danger, but why hasn't it been a danger all this time?" Presley said.

Residents fear what will happen will the place closes its doors for good.

"It's not an ideal place. It's like what it says: 'Stepping Stone,'" Braddy said. "It's just a place to stop until you find your way ... I'm worried right now ... If they were to shut this down tonight, I'll be sleeping under a bridge."

City leaders say they will not force people onto the streets in the cold if the place happens to shut its doors. The mayor says he is looking to find new housing for residents if Stepping Stone Rooming House closes.

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