Displaced Plainfield residents staying at hotels throughout county

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
City Council meeting held after Plainfield residents displaced from condemned building
Community members and residents came together at a City Council meeting Monday night to talk more about the conditions people were living in. Jim Dolan has more.

PLAINFIELD, New Jersey (WABC) -- Many residents who were displaced in Plainfield are staying at hotels throughout the county, and hundreds more living in a second building fear they may have to leave as well.

This comes after residents were given 24 hours' notice to leave their homes due to unsafe conditions.

It has been a struggle for Vivian Rodriguez and her family. They are among 61 displaced families who were seeking food and toiletries at Plainfield High School.

(video in media player is from a previous report)

The high school had been set up as an emergency shelter for residents to get the supplies they need. No one needed to sleep there or at the Performing Arts Center as previously reported.

"When we saw the fireman closing the building it was sad, my mom started crying because they kicked us out," said Rodriguez.

Assistance was provided for 298 tenants who were abruptly uprooted when the Plainfield buildings they lived in for years were condemned this past week because of hazardous conditions.

"It's not easy for me right now, but my family and everything is ok - the rest may take time and maybe be ok again," said Ricardo Perez.

Perez and his five kids left behind their home at 501 West 7th Street - now crammed in with his brother. None of it is ideal.

"My brother gives me a room right now but I look for maybe apartment and we'll see," Perez said.

Hotel vouchers for some of the displaced expired Sunday - and others on Tuesday.

The mayor says the priority is to get these residents into temporary and permanent housing.

There is no timetable for the repairs to be made to the 501 building. It's going to take a long time. Too long for residents to expect to go back. They have to find new housing.

Residents of the 515 building where violations were also found had been allowed to stay, but the mayor says their days are numbered. Those residents are likely going to have to leave soon as well.

"515 was inspected by the state last Friday," Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp said. "We are waiting that report. But are no expectations that 515 is in any better shape than 501 and we believe that at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will have to take serious actions at 515 as well."

It is the last of six buildings in Plainfield, owned by Cyclone West 84, that has not been condemned.

Resident Yesenia Leal says the people who live at 515 want to stay, and are begging the city to make the owners get repairs done faster so they don't have to move.

"One of the walls has a hole so when the kids are taking a bath, it goes through the wall," Leal said. "The ceiling has mold in the bathroom and then the stove that they just gave me, rats were in it."

Community members and residents came together at a City Council meeting Monday night to talk more about the conditions people were living in.

One councilman asked if the building ever had a certificate of occupancy.

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs says it is prepared to make available $1.5 million in temporary housing assistance for people displaced until they can return home once the housing violations are abated by the property owner.

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