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After being forced from their homes, Grace Place residents remain displaced

2 weeks after being forced their homes, Grace Place residents remain displaced: 'We’re struggling'
Posted at 11:26 PM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 23:26:02-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than two weeks since nearly 60 residents were forced from their homes at the downtown Grace Place apartments in a matter of hours, residents are likely in for another week of being displaced as of Monday.

"I can’t speak for anybody but myself -- but we’re struggling," said tenant Jennifer Orishak.

Orishak was among 25 tenants being housed by property management according to the Richmond Fire Department. Others were being helped through city and state housing agencies.

For two weeks, Orishak and some of the other tenants had been staying at a West End hotel, eight miles from their apartment units.

"Now we’re in the middle of nowhere," Orishak said.

She added that she was grateful to have a place to stay but ready to be home.

"We’re eating macaroni and cheese out of a microwave," Orishak said.

With no car, and a limited ability to walk, Orishak was relying on her walker and the bus to get around. She said it hadn't been easy.

"It’s been a struggle. I can’t get to my doctors, I go to the Daily Planet. I can’t, we have to take two buses. I can’t go to Rite Aid where I have to go get my medicine," she said

On Monday morning in a text from property management, Orishak and other residents were informed that wouldn't be changing this week. Property management informed residents they’d extended their stay at the hotel until the 15th in the hopes of reopening the Grace Place apartments the following week.

In an update from the Richmond Fire Department, a spokesperson said the property manager had made progress, completing three of five actions that needed to happen before tenants can return.

Pending verification from vendors, Richmond Fire said fire suppression systems and the fire alarm had been repaired and the building had been completely sanitized and the trash chute cleaned out.

But before residents could come back, the Acting Commissioner of Buildings needed to finish reviewing the report of a structural engineer, who inspected the building to make sure it was structurally sound, and the elevators had to be repaired. This was estimated to be done by Wednesday after the parts arrived.

"Just take responsibility for what you allowed happen before, fix the problem," said Orishak.

She added that she believed in property management and hoped they would continue to work to fix the problem sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, she said she was staying positive thanks to her faith in God and her hope that things would get better.

"There’s a light at the end of the tunnel," she said.

Property management is expected to meet again with city of Richmond officials for a walkthrough to evaluate their progress this week.

CBS 6 reached out to the property owner and has not heard back.