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City council meeting could have major impact on partially-condemned Plainfield property

Plainfield City Council meeting o future of partially-condemned apartment building
Plainfield City Council meeting o future of partially-condemned apartment building 02:11

PLAINFIELD, N.J. -- A city council meeting in Plainfield, New Jersey could have a major impact on the partially-condemned property where the city said they discovered unsafe living conditions last month.

Several tenants tell CBS New York investigative reporter Tim McNicholas they want to move back in ASAP.

It used to be home for Ninoska Guido and her 3-year-old son, but the family has spent the last month in a temporary home as contractors work to repair the condemned building. Guido said the displacement is affecting her in every way possible, and she's worried about the impact on her kids and their schoolwork.

She plans to attend Monday night's council meeting, in hopes of learning more about the future of the property. The city council could vote on whether there should be a study done on how the property, and several others, should be redeveloped.

"There should be, however, there has to be affordable housing. That's the need in this community. That's the cry for this community," First Ward Councilman Robert Graham said. 

State housing inspectors discovered 235 violations at the building in 2021, but didn't conduct a follow-up inspection until last month.

A recent CBS 2 investigation uncovered an inspection backlog across New Jersey - 15,000 properties with open housing violations, but the state has not yet checked back to see if the owner actually fixed the problems.

"That's unfortunate and, of course, in Plainfield we would like to have a state inspector housed in our municipality, so we can have a direct connection and a state inspector right on premises," Graham said. 

As the council and mayor's office consider how to handle the situation, workers at the property saying they're moving ahead with repairs.

The owners have now hired a new property manager, who tells CBS New York they hope to have the building repaired and ready to re-open in two to four months.

"What will you do going forward to ensure that this kind of problem doesn't arise again?" McNicholas said. 

"I've already been through all the properties to see what needs to get done. I've given the tenants my number so they can call me at any time if they have an issue," property manager Magda Vasquez said. 

Vasquez said she's also hired a super to help her out, and they're waiting on some permits for plumbing work at the building.

The building next to the condemned one on the same property is still operating, and Monday night's council meeting will focus on that building's future as well. 

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