Displaced Plainfield residents hold rally ahead of meeting to decide fate of condemned apartments

Displaced tenants of a condemned Plainfield apartment building held a march Monday evening ahead of a City Council meeting to decide the fate of their homes.
The residents braved heavy rain Monday evening to march from 723 Arlington Ave. – one of the condemned buildings – to the Plainfield Municipal Building. They also stopped at City Hall to demand more affordable housing in their community.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people cannot afford to get a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom apartment. The reason why a lot of people were staying in those apartments was because that was the only thing they can afford,” says displaced resident Estephany Blanco.
News 12 New Jersey first reported in August about the tenants of 501 West Seventh St. They were ordered to vacate their homes after their building was deemed unlivable and riddled with maintenance issues. Tenants were forced to find last-minute housing.
“Some are still with friends and relatives. Some have gotten temporary housing apartments or hotels and then others have got more long-term leases,” says Plainfield Councilman Sean McKenna.
Plainfield officials are considering a resolution that would authorize the city’s planning board to conduct a redevelopment study. If passed, the areas where the condemned buildings currently stand would be designated as condemnation redevelopment areas and the planning board could move forward with redeveloping the area and ultimately pushing current residents from their homes for good.
“It’s very unfortunate because a lot of people have lived here for over 30 years and you’re used to your lifestyle here and it’s going to be hard to transition somewhere else,” says Blanco.
The residents are also demanding that a city official who made unsavory remarks about those who were displaced be removed from all her positions.
Officials voted 4-3 to move forward with the redevelopment studies.