PLAINFIELD, NJ - Eighty families in Plainfield, New Jersey are still trying to figure out where they’re going to live after their apartment building was suddenly condemned this week. The 24-hour deadline to get out of 515 West 7th Street ended Wednesday night.
It was hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch, for the 80 Plainfield School District students who are about to start the school year homeless after the city decided to condemn and close the apartment building on West 7th Street.
The Board of Education decided to bring breakfast, lunch, and dinner to them and their families, who are refusing to go to the city’s impromptu shelter at Performing Arts Center.
"I understand why some of the reasons they don’t want to leave," said Hanae Wyatt, Plainfield Board of Education President.
From spreading mold to leaking sewage and caving ceilings, the elevators hadn’t worked for months, fire alarms were missing, and the presence of mice was obvious.
"A lot of people were frustrated," said one resident.
While the state was aware of the deplorable conditions, the city only discovered the gross neglect after a complaint came in, and upon seeing the state of the building, it shut down all 80 units, leaving dozens of families with nowhere to go.
The building's owners attempted to visit on Wednesday, only to be met by an angry mob.
They could not be reached for comment.
The owners of the building Aaron Eichron Charles Aryeh of Cyclone investment group have quite a track record. The city says they own six buildings four of which have been condemned and when they came out here last summer to inspect this building, they found 235 violations. Over a year later, and none of them have been addressed.
"We are now tasked with crafting legislation to make sure that we hold all slumlords accountable and to make sure that the city of Plainfield is coming in and doing inspections and not just relying on the state and their communication," said Richard Wyatt, councilman at large.
While the city investigates, I t’s trying to help the residents, many Spanish speakers, offering two months of storage, hotels, and even finding some apartments. But with August rent checks already cashed, the families don’t have enough money to move.