Some residents defy orders to vacate condemned buildings in Plainfield

Crystal Cranmore Image
Friday, August 11, 2023
Some residents defy orders to vacate condemned buildings in Plainfield
Eyewitness News is told work will begin immediately after two buildings were condemned earlier this week in Plainfield. Reporter Crystal Cranmore has the latest.

PLAINFIELD, New Jersey (WABC) -- Contractors are combing through every inch of the building and Eyewitness News is told work will begin immediately after two buildings were condemned earlier this week in Plainfield.

The challenge is getting some of the residents out to be able to do the work.

Many have defied orders and stayed because they simply have no place to go or they are scared someone might steal their belongings.

There are holes in the walls, leaking pipes in ceilings and walls, and open sewer pipes.

The two Plainfield buildings on 7th and Liberty Street have just 84 apartments but were sighted for 235 building code violations just a year ago.

According to the state, the owners failed to address them.

On Wednesday, angry residents demanded answers from the landlord of the building.

Police had to escort him to a waiting car, but he was shouted down and surrounded.

Tenants say cries for help to fix repairs have gone unanswered for months, leading to deplorable conditions.

Officials gave tenants 24 hours' notice on Tuesday to move out following an inspection.

One resident still inside, spoke to Eyewitness News right after contractors left her apartment.

"They came in to check the water. We only have water for 3, 4 months already," she said. "They said they would fix it."

The young girl says her family has no place to go. Her family lives out of the country.

However, community leaders tell Eyewitness News there is a shelter set up at 724 Park Avenue that is still available.

The building's owners say they have no comment except to say they are trying to get the residents back into their homes.

The mayor offered a piece of hope Thursday night.

He says emergency shelters have been set up at the Plainfield Performing Arts Center and local hotels.

"Mount Olive Baptist Church said they'd be willing to provide emergency shelter as well," Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp said.

The City of Plainfield condemned two apartment buildings, but residents say they had just paid their August rent and are now out thousands. Reporter Toni Yates has more.

Outside the apartments, activists and other community leaders rallied behind the residents.

"We have over 80 students that reside in this building with their families and we wanted to ensure that they were eating," said Hanae M. Wyatt of the Plainfield Public School District.

The building owner says he had no idea the apartments were in such disrepair. He released a statement.

"The management company was under strict instruction to maintain the building in pristine condition and had been paid hundred's of thousands of dollars in management fees for responsive and/or preventative maintenance for that purpose," Cyclone West LLC said in a statement.

The landlords have been identified as Charles Aryeh and Aaron Eichron who have owned six residential buildings in Plainfield. Four have already been condemned.

"I think that is so incredibly ridiculous that the landlord would try to lay blame at the feet of a management company, that quite simply seems to not exist," Mapp said. "No one knows who this management company is."

The owner has yet to name the management company hired for the job.

Meanwhile, the mayor says the city has worked with one of the storage companies to provide free services to the tenants.

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