Jose Colon just returned home from a 12-hour work shift Thursday when he noticed men with badges taking photos of his home on the 500 block of North Plum Street.

“I was confused as to what was going on,” he said, so he went out and spoke with one of the men, who identified himself as an inspector. “They told me we had to be out by four."

Lancaster city officials are still trying to pinpoint the cause of a structural issue that led to seven row houses being condemned, displacing 17 people Thursday.

A structural engineer contracted by the city inspected the homes Friday morning, according to Jess King, chief of staff to Mayor Danene Sorace. No determination was made by the engineer, who said further analysis was needed, King said.

In the meantime, she said the city is working with landlords to relocate displaced residents.

Most of the residents are staying at a hotel on Lincoln Highway East, with the cost covered by funds managed by Community Action Partnership. The hotel stay lasts through Tuesday morning, although the city is looking at other longer-term solutions, including first deposit assistance, King said.

The sudden condemnation caught Colon's fiancée, Najhera Polanco, by surprise.

“I didn’t think it was that bad,” Polanco, an employee of LNP Media Group, said of the structural issue at 531 N. Plum St.

She said she’s always noticed a slant in rooms in her second-and-third-story apartment, but didn’t think much of it. “I’m more in shock and frustrated,” she said, at how quick they were forced to relocate.

Polanco, Colon and their two daughters are temporarily staying with relatives while they find a new place to live.

“It’s a great neighborhood,” Colon added.

The couple lived at the home for three years but had older neighbors who had lived on the block since the 1980s.

“It hurts to see the families that have been there for more than 30 years be told to leave like that,” he said.