NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) — A Bronx community welcomed back more than two dozen families forced out of their homes by the City Buildings Department earlier this month.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports

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The tenants at 1204 Shakespeare Avenue were told with almost no notice that they just might be away from home for the holidays, the result of a mandatory emergency evacuation. That is no longer the case.

“This building is so messed up,” said evacuee Lucy Sanchez.

The 26 displaced families who were sent to live in shelters and hotels across the city returned to their apartments Monday.

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“I can not even express myself, like all we’ve been through, but we are very thankful,” resident Wanda Ortiz said.

The tenants celebrated their happy homecoming by lighting the lobby Christmas tree and popping streamers.

For some tenants who were forced to leave their pets behind on Dec. 4, Monday’s homecoming was also a reunion of sorts and a return to safer living conditions.

“They saying I can’t stay in there, but he can stay in there,” Sanchez said.

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The gas leak, debris pile, and blocked fire escapes — violations that triggered the move in the first place — have all been addressed.