One Year After Deadly SF Mission Fire Building Decays as Tenants Struggle

first_imgCarolyn Goossen, an aide to Supervisor David Campos, said the supervisor’s office allocated some $40,000 to $50,000 of its discretionary funds to help restore units on Treasure Island and subsidize displaced tenants’ rents.The remaining portion of residents struck out on their own.Araceli Toyama and her two children, for example, are staying with friends in the city. She relies on their generosity while she looks for housing, and a year after her displacement she still hasn’t found any. “It’s been difficult to find a place without so many restrictions — credit, no children, affordable rent,” Toyama said. “I just want something I can afford, not a studio for $4,000, plus last and first month’s deposit — it’s not logical.”Toyama still works at a laundromat on Valencia and 22nd Streets, and her two kids still go to school at Buena Vista Horace Mann.Eugenia Aldama and Humberto Lopez at the dining table in their temporary home in Parkmerced. Photo by Laura WenusJuan Lara, a recent arrival to the building at the time that it burned down, stays in the Mission with an old acquaintance but doesn’t know how long that can last. At 66, he is struggling to get by. “Whenever she wants me out, she can throw me out, no lease, no nothing,” Lara said. “Sometimes I work, and with what I get from social security, I barely make it. Sometimes I go where they give out food for seniors, or my friends invite me over for dinner.”Lara said his former roommate at the building, Felipe Reyes, is also staying with friends and sells goods on the street to make ends meet. But living in city-assigned housing has not been a picnic either.Humberto Lopez and Eugenia Aldama, former reporters and photographers who had extremely active social lives at the building, now live in Parkmerced and are completely isolated from their former lives. They have the option to extend their lease there for an additional year, but feel they have no choice.“We are not working, I am retired, so what little money I get is what we get. I barely pay the rent,” Lopez said. Jose Gonzalez, whose son Alessandro Gonzalez received an award for his heroism for managing to save his dog while jumping from a second story window to escape the blaze, lives on Treasure Island. But at Mission and 22nd streets, nothing is clear. Residents say they have heard that Lou sold the building. And it appeared in August that Lou was in the midst of a deal. At that time, he told Mission Local he would not be able to wait to sell the building to the non-profit Mission Economic Development Agency. At the time, sources estimated that Lou was getting $20 million from potential buyers. Nonetheless, public records show that he is still the owner, though neither Lou himself nor his attorney responded to requests to confirm this.Roof gone. Mission Local’s visit to the building two months post-fire. Photo by Daniel Hirsch.Applications have been filed with the Department of Building Inspections to repair the roof and third floors of the building, but they have not yet been approved. Lily Madjus Wu, a department spokesperson, said it’s unclear why the permits were never issued, but it’s likely inspectors needed additional documentation from the applicant and it was never provided.Building inspectors have been after Lou for some time after the fire to get his building back in shape, and in fact initiated enforcement proceedings to speed up the repair process. After the department received no response to several notices of violation and follow-ups, it has referred the case to the City Attorney’s office, which will provide legal representation during enforcement. Meanwhile, the structure continues to decay. “All of this awful mold and mildew and rot happened, because everything was wet and sitting in water for months,” said Van Dine, the artist. She estimates her last trip inside was in May. “The stench was unbelievable, and the smoke damage, and the mold – The walls were furry.”Several tenants said they have seen or heard of workers cleaning out refuse from the building, but after the walls and ceiling were shored to allow re-entry, no additional visible repairs were made. “I really hope [the landlord] can sell it,” Van Dine said. “It’s just this hole that is eating all of us up.” This boy and his dog had to jump from the fire escape from #sf #fire, were safely caught by a neighbor. pic.twitter.com/F7Hy10ED4W— Mission Local (@MLNow) January 29, 2015 Tom Jue, who operates Tom Jue & Company, said he believes he’s been cleared of any violation by the San Francisco Fire Department. Gordon Kaupp, an attorney from the firm Kaupp and Feinberg who is representing residential tenants Jorge and Lucia Flores in a case against Lou, said that ultimately it is a landlord’s duty to keep his building in working order.“Under the law, the owner is always responsible to maintain the fire alarm system in operable condition,” Kaupp said. “The buck stops with the landlord.”Smoke detectors in the building were also found to be more than ten years old, Kaupp said, despite a legal requirement that smoke detectors in residential buildings be replaced at least every ten years. He also pointed out inadequate egress from the building. The commercial exit to Mission Street was locked with a padlock, and awnings over ground floor retail prevented fire escapes from extending to the ground.The night of the fire, residents told Mission Local and firefighters on the scene that the alarms failed to sound, and that many had no warning that anything was amiss until they opened their doors to smoke and flames — or heard the sirens of arriving emergency vehicles. Video Courtesy of Janet KornblumKaupp said it appears the alarm system was without power the night of the fire. A resident in the building also told Mission Local in the days after the fire that the alarm system had been disabled temporarily after a false alarm about four months before the fire, and that he suspected it may not have been hooked back up.Firefighters ultimately determined that the cause of the fire was likely an electrical short inside a third floor interior wall. Lou told fire investigators, according to a fire department report, that he was not aware of any problems with the building itself. According to the fire investigation report, a tenant told fire investigators that “circuits occasionally are overloaded and ‘trip’ in the unit.” None of the attorneys representing Lou responded to calls for comment.Residents Struggle with New LivesRumors abound among former residents and business tenants of the building as to the current state of the building, but not one resident said they had heard from the landlord directly. So they have tried to build new lives, a difficult task in a city with a severe housing crisis. Benjamin Amyes, the emergency management coordinator for the city’s Human Services Agency, said some 90 percent of the displaced from the fire have been housed through various city programs. He said each of these residents are able to stay in their new location for up to two years, at their pre-disaster rents. Locations include Treasure Island, Parkmerced and a complex in the Mission District called 2B Living. “There’s constantly fire drills, so I’m constantly having panic attacks there.” “There’s constantly fire drills, so I’m constantly having panic attacks there,” Cordova said. “I went to therapy but didn’t like the therapy, so I just take medication. It’s been kinda hard.”Nancy Segovia does day-care work in the city, and her husband Tony works in construction. It takes them around an hour and a half to get to work. Her 18-year-old daughter commutes two hours to her classes at City College of San Mateo. But beyond the endless bus rides, residents are concerned about safety. Two weeks ago, Cordova’s daughter was accosted by a man in their corner of Treasure Island who was apparently under the influence of amphetamines. Cordova was in the kitchen when she heard her daughter shouting.“All I kept hearing was ‘Mom! Mom! Mom!’ He would not let go of her,” Cordova recalled. She went to her daughter’s aid, only to find a neighbor had forced his way into their house. “I was able to get him out of my house and I called the police.” It took officers more than 15 minutes to arrive on scene, and by that time, the man had disappeared.“I’m so worried,” said Segovia, who heard about the incident from Cordova. “So then I say to the police, ‘What happens if that happens with my son, my daughter?’ That’s not too safe.”Businesses AdriftAminta Calderón, owner of Antojitos Salvadoreños Aminta, the day after the fire.  Photo by Daniel MondragónSome businesses from the building have relocated, with mixed results. Sollega moved several blocks north along Mission, and continues to do business. The solar company was not as deeply affected by the fire as others, said employee Patrick Waite. Thalia’s Jewelry moved to Mission near 24th Street, and its owners are trying to reinvent their business. Nieves Cinco de Mayo found refuge inside a grocery on 16th Street. Taquería La Alteña has relocated to inside Cava 22.For former business owners who no longer work in the neighborhood, it can be painful to return.Nancy Ortega, who for 20 years ran El Perol restaurant in the building, is thinking about relocating the business to San Rafael, where she now lives. “It’s difficult just to look at the building. I always wonder, ‘Why?’” Ortega mused. “But the owner never guaranteed our safety: There were no alarms, emergency exits were blocked, and all that comes to mind when you wonder what happened.”Still, she’s determined to bring her business back in one form or another. “A lot of my customers still call me and sometimes I do catering. They miss my Peruvian breakfasts,” Ortega said.Teresa Reyes, whose family ran the Bay Area Fish and Poultry on the ground floor of the building, said she was forced to leave her home in San Francisco almost immediately after the fire, when her landlord wanted to reclaim the unit. “All of this awful mold and mildew and rot happened, because everything was wet and sitting in water for months.” 0% Tags: 22nd Street fire • displacement • Fires • housing Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%center_img “It’s difficult just to look at the building. I always wonder, ‘Why?’” Disclosure: Mission Local was a commercial tenant for a year and half at the building discussed in this article.One year after a fire tore through the three-story building at Mission and 22nd streets, killing one and displacing more than 60, its former tenants are in limbo. The building remains destroyed, moldy and completely vacant. Residential tenants have been displaced to distant and, in most cases, temporary homes while many of the building’s former businesses are struggling to get back on their feet.Meanwhile, five lawsuits brought by more than 30 tenants and 20 businesses against the building’s owner, Hawk Ling Lou, are in various early stages, with those affected hoping to be compensated for some of their losses. Lou Shifts Blame to Alarm Company She has relocated to Daily City, but her business shut down. She estimates she sustained losses of $200,000. Now, there’s not really any reason to spend time in the neighborhood where she once made a living. “I don’t really have any more ties to the Mission. Sometimes I go over there to buy things, and maybe the bank on 22nd… but that’s it,” said Reyes.Karen Van Dine, an artist whose work, tools and materials were stored in her studio in the building, said she is grateful to have been offered a temporary storage space at the African American Arts and Culture Complex. With the help of friends, Van Dine was able to return to the building several times to rescue her belongings. But finding a new studio in San Francisco appears to be out of the question. “And to find a new space, it’s just exorbitant,” she said. “The rates are out of this world. People in Nob Hill are renting out closets for more than I can afford. Most artists have fled to the East Bay. I’m 74 now and there’s just no way I can do that. I just don’t have the strength.” Fate of the Building UnclearTo a person, former tenants are frustrated that they have heard absolutely nothing from landlord Lou and his attorneys about the potential repair of the building. Many know that they have the right to return to the building after repairs are complete, and intend to exercise that right. Moving back may not be in the cards if it takes longer to repair the building than they can stay in their temporary housing. The recent history of fires in the Mission shows that few displaced tenants ultimately do return to their homes. Lou is counter-suing the alarm company in four of the five cases against him.The cross-complaints allege that damages from the fire at 2578-2598 Mission St. were the responsibility of the company that maintained the building’s alarm systems.In legal documents, Lou’s attorneys allege that Tom Jue & Company, a fire safety firm that managed the alarm systems at the burned building, failed to maintain the system, causing some of the losses that the tenants have suffered. These losses include property, profits, housing and tenant improvements. In their lawsuits, the tenants allege negligence, including a lack of maintenance on the electrical systems. “The buck stops with the landlord.” “Sometimes I work, and with what I get from social security, I barely make it.” “To live here, it’s okay. But it’s difficult because we have to take the kid to 22nd and Dolores, to school,” Gonzalez said. “My wife doesn’t drive and she has to take public transportation, so it’s a one hour commute each way.”Transportation and isolation are two major concerns on Treasure Island — particularly for residents who still have jobs in the Mission. Marcela Cordova works at the UCSF hospital. It takes her about 15 minutes to drive to work, she said, but it can take an hour just to get on the bridge during the evening rush hour. Working at a hospital comes with its own complications, too.last_img read more

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Anne Kihagi Bank forecloses on building owned by San Franciscos cruelest landlord

first_imgWell-heeled bidders should head to City Hall’s steps on Oct. 17 to buy one of Kihagi’s properties Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Last year, a city jury leveled a state-record penalty against her in a case waged by just the first of several lawyered-up former tenants — and a number of other cases are pending. The city itself, in 2017, won a multi-million dollar judgment against her for more than 1,600 separate violations — a penalty that continues to swell past $6 million, considering interest payments and burgeoning legal fees brought on by Kihagi’s legal war of attrition.This strategy of legal trench warfare was effective for Kihagi against individual tenants of limited means. It has proven less successful in battling a city with essentially infinite means and no external time pressures. And the scheduled Oct. 17 auction of the six-unit structure at 3947 18th St., which Kihagi purchased for some $2.8 million in 2013, might be the first of several dominos to fall. A scheduled Oct. 12 hearing could determine whether three more of Kihagi’s properties will be sold off to the highest bidder: 195 Eureka St., 1000-1022 Filbert St., and 4018-4022 19th St. Manufacturers Bank declared Kihagi in default regarding the 3947 18th St. property all the way back in April. The bank accused her of transferring the property without permission; “unconsented encumbrances” on the building stemming from injunctions from the city; failing to adhere to “laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards” relating to the structure; and, to top it off, neglecting to pay property taxes. Failure to remedy all of the above, Kihagi was warned, “may result in the Bank’s exercise of its rights and remedies under the subject loan documents, including foreclosure.” That happened. And, barring unforeseen lunacy, the property will now be auctioned off, in open air, Oct. 17. Anne Kihagi’s brazen wave of tenant evictions and documented persecution earned her the consensus title of San Francisco’s cruelest landlord. But, following a series of court rulings against her, she is facing yet another legal setback: One of her foreclosed properties is slated to be auctioned off on the City Hall steps later this month. Kihagi burst onto the San Francisco real-estate scene in 2013, purchasing some 11 buildings over three years, shelling out more than $30 million. In an all-but-choreographed pattern, later painstakingly documented by several court rulings, she targeted properties inhabited by rent-controlled tenants — who were often elderly or infirm — purchased them at artificially low prices due to the rent-controlled buildings’ limited income potential, and then methodically squeezed out her low-income renters. Email Addresslast_img read more

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Saints travel to the Magic Weekend in Newcastle lo

first_imgSaints travel to the Magic Weekend in Newcastle looking to get back on the horse after two defeats in a row – including a heavy loss at Castleford.But they won’t stand a chance of doing that if they don’t go back to basics.“We were disappointed with the performance at Castleford,” he said. “We are gutted we are out of the Cup and for the fans that paid good money to go over to Cas. We put in our worst performance of the season.“The good thing is we can start to put it right this week. The boys have responded well to our sessions this week and seem upbeat.“When things aren’t going great it is a vicious circle. We have to get the boys believing in themselves a little more. A few good wins breeds confidence.“Cas are blowing teams away and we knew we would be up against. But we should have played a lot better. Credit to them, they were good, but it wasn’t good enough and we need to fix a lot of things up.“We need a performance and from that comes belief. We’re focusing on getting the small things right. We are going back to basics; stripping it right back rather than over complicating things.”He continued: “Last time we played Hull we turned over loads of ball. If we had kept hold of it at certain periods we would have got that game. At the back end we were coming home with a wet sail but couldn’t get over the line.“We know it will be a tough game but we have to respect the ball a little more and go back to basics. It is a big game and we are looking forward to it.“Mahe Fonua and their backs set the platform for the forwards and then Marc Sneyd, with his kicking game, and Albert Kelly, with his running game do the rest. They are a dangerous team.”Long says Saints new head coach Justin Holbrook should arrive in the country in time to travel over with the squad.“Justin should be here for the game and will oversee things,” he added. “He has told us to keep things ticking over, get the boys coming to training with a smile on their faces and stick with the same team so he can take a look at everyone.“It’s an added incentive for the boys to play well. They are playing for their jerseys. I think the boys need a lift and they should get a boost this week.“If we can get a couple of wins then in the next couple of weeks we will be a different side altogether. It is all about belief. Once you get one win then another will come.“We’re on a big stage this week, in front of 40,000 people and it will be a good atmosphere. There is no better time to get the win.”Ticket details for the game can be found here. They will be available on gameday.last_img read more

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Saints Hospitality is perfect for entertaining cli

first_imgSaints Hospitality is perfect for entertaining clients, rewarding staff performance, celebrating a special occasion or just wanting to experience your Saints in style.Guests enjoy a sumptuous three-course meal pre-match and with direct access to premium seats, it’s the perfect environment for entertaining and impressing your guests.The 1873 Lounge is located on the first floor of the South Stand, with ease of access for all guests – and places are now available for our season opener against Wigan on January 31.The Package Includes:Premium padded match seats in the South Stand close to the half way line.Delicious pre-match three-course meal plus a tasting plate with complimentary tea & coffee at half-time.Private cash bar.Professional & vastly experienced lounge compère – Pete Emmett.Pre-match interviews with Saints’ squad players and legends.Post-match interview with Saints Man of the Match.Complimentary Match Programme for each guest.10% merchandise discount for Saints Superstore (located at the Totally Wicked Stadium) on Matchday, just show your match ticket in store to qualify.Our Lounge magician, John Holt will visit your table and entertain your group.Sky Sports live game will be shown in the Lounge.Post-match Quiz with the prize of a round of drinks for your table courtesy of our partners, Robinsons BreweryCar Parking (for parties of four or more – subject to availability).2019 Memberships (excluding VAT):Renewal£735 +VATNew Customer£788 +VAT1873 Lounge Prices (exc VAT):CategoryAdult Member UpgradeJunior Member UpgradeAdult PriceJunior PriceA£75£41£95£52B£55£33£75£42C£45£25£55£30Categories:ABCWiganCastlefordCatalanWarringtonLeedsLondonHull FCWakefieldSalfordHull KRHuddersfieldSaints 2019 fixtures can be found here and our 2019 Brochure can be viewed by clicking on the image below. If you would like more information or you would like to book, please call us on 01744 455 053 or  email sales@saintsrlfc.com.last_img read more

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After 37 years Harris Teeter in Ogden to close

first_img00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Harris Teeter at Ogden Plaza will close its doors next month.According to a news release, the decision came after “careful consideration and strategic market reviews.”- Advertisement – The company opened the store at 6840 Market Street in February 1981.The company said it announced the closure yesterday and began informing its 57 employees.Harris Teeter said the company will work with its associates and give them the opportunity to transfer to other locations.Related Article: Water conservation urged for Memorial Day throughout Brunswick CountyCustomers were notified through signs in store and e-VIC communication.Starting Wednesday, the store hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.The store will officially close at noon on August 11.Harris Teeter has several other stores in the area, including one 2.1 miles away at Mayfaire, 3.5 miles away at Lumina Station near Wrightsville Beach and 4.1 miles away in Porters Neck.last_img read more

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Hit and run leaves man with shattered prosthetic leg

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A hit and run back in March leaves one young man with ongoing medical complications. Police are now offering a reward for information about the suspect.Larry Blakley was riding his skateboard near Greenfield Lake last March. When a driver hit him head on, Blakley says he thought he was going to die.- Advertisement – 20-year-old Blakley had a prosthetic leg, but his accident has left him in dire need of a new leg.Blakley says he was riding his skateboard over a pothole. He says the next thing he remembers is being on top of a car.Blakley says the car slammed on its brakes, threw him to the ground, then drove over him, shattering his prosthetic leg.Related Article: Neighbors exchange gunshots during Tabor City home break-inBlakley says it is extremely painful to wear now, but does not have the insurance for a new leg.“It digs into my foot, my nub. And since it’s not the right fit, it messes with my hip internally,” said Larry Blakley. “So that will cause an internal injury and my hips will be displaced. So I’ll walk with an even more noticeable limp than I have now. And it will stop my hip from being level with my other one. But as of right now, that’s what I have to deal with.”Blakley had a replacement prosthetic, but says his ex-girlfriend threw it in the dumpster. Now, he only has the broken one.Blakley says a replacement prosthetic could cost as much as $50,000.Blakley has started a GoFundMe to raise money for a new prosthetic leg. Click here to donate.last_img read more

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Firewood giveaway for elderly

first_imgLELAND, NC (WWAY) — Are you in need of some wood for your fireplace? One Leland man is giving it away for free! Leland Firewood Co-Owner Jalen Brown says he wants to give back to the community.He says he wants to help people stay warm during these cold days. Brown says he cut, split and dried each log for about 16 months. The longer each dries the slower it burns.- Advertisement – Each piece is 16 inches long. This particular type of wood he is giving away is for heating.He is specifically looking to help elderly. Brown says collecting wood may be, especially, difficult for them.“Temperatures are dropping and elderly can’t get out and split it,” said Brown. “It’s a lot of work getting the wood processed and ready to go in the heater… and getting it dry.”Brown says he started by helping an elderly neighbor. He then realized the need to continue to help them.Related Article: Police searching for man who reportedly robbed bank near UNCWIf you are interested, Brown can be contacted at (910) 200-9441.last_img read more

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Wilmington police investigating Tuesday shooting

first_imgWilmington Police are investigating a shooting at 6th and Meares on March 12, 2019 (Photo: Wilmington Police Dept.) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Police are investigating after a man was shot south of downtown Wilmington Tuesday afternoon.Department spokesperson Jennifer Dandron said police responded to South 6th and Meares streets around 2:10 p.m. for a shooting.- Advertisement – EMS transported a male victim who is in his mid to late twenty’s with a gun shot wound to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where he was in serious condition.Dandron did not say if any arrests have been made. Police continue to investigate.They urge anyone with info to call WPD.last_img

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Jaime Lannister grows a hand

first_imgWhatsApp SharePrint While the epic final season of Game Of Thrones has fans frantically proposing endgames, the editors of the impressive series have got egg on their face yet again. Jaime Lanister seems to have grown back a hand.Without going into spoilers for those who have as yet not seen the episode, the awesome cinematic effects of this final season have been undermined by a second great booby. After the Starbucks cup plainly visible on the medieval banqueting table in Episode 4, now, Jaime Lannister’s hand has miraculously re-grown.Die-hard fans of the long-running fantasy drama will remember Jamie, famed for his elaborate sword-play, relearning the art of combat after it was brutally cut at the wrist during its third season. This was a watershed moment for the character played by Nikolai Coster-Waldau, as he lost his hand to save Brienne of Tarth. This action humanised a character which, up to that point had been a rather two-dimensional ‘baddie’. The gold hand which replaced his severed hand gave the character depth and eventually helped in his transition into the ‘goodies’.  However, the cumbersome gold replacement was nowhere in sight as he embraced sister Cersei one last time.Instead, the hand we last saw being separated from his right arm in 2013 appeared to be in frame ….and as for the rest, our lips are sealed.center_img <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

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Third country nationals employed illegally due to documentation delay – MEA

first_img SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> The Malta Employers’ Association called for a faster and more efficient process to expedite applications, as in many cases third country nationals were being employed illegally because of the delays in processing.This came about in a press release where the same Association expressed its support for the establishment of an Enforcement Unit within Identity Malta to tackle illegal employment of third country nationals. The Association said that it has consistently been against illegalemployment practices which, besides being objectionable in themselves, also give abusive operators an unfair competitive advantage over others that adhere to the rules.The Association went on to say that Identity Malta should distinguish between operators who abuse the system to profit from illegality, and employers who are pressured into employing third country nationals because of inefficient administration, which they said frequently drives applicants to desperate measures to work in order to support themselves. This, explained the Association, carries the risk that they might end up being exploited.In the meantime, MEA also recommended authorities to consider combining the inspectorate of Jobs Plus, DIER and Identity Malta for better effectiveness and to avoid anoverlapping of duties.WhatsApplast_img read more

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