By the time of the fire in February, half of the Dewey’s 43 units were empty. Many remaining residents had lived there for years. When they first arrived, multiple former tenants told the Times, the building was safe and they received services to care for various disabilities.
But about five years ago, residents said, everything began to change. Tenants worried about stabbings and shootings. The elevator stopped working. Danzey said the toilet handle in his room broke and was never repaired, forcing him to flush by pulling the chain in the tank.
The Dewey’s decline was part of larger problems across the trust’s portfolio. Unstable leadership, financial mismanagement and a failing business model for the nonprofit’s single-room occupancy buildings led to a cash shortage and deteriorating conditions in its buildings.
Marvin Danzey III, 58, outside the Lincoln Hotel on Skid Row in September. Danzey is a former tenant of the Dewey Hotel, which was declared uninhabitable after a fire in February. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)