RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It was a holiday homecoming in Richmond on Wednesday for residents of the Grace Place Apartments, who were given the green light to return to their homes after being forced out more than a month ago.
On Friday, Oct. 22, dozens of local residents were left without a home after the 58-unit building was condemned. The apartment complex had been deemed unlivable by the Fire Marshal’s Office and the Department of Planning & Development Review during a multiagency inspection that day.
According to a release, the inspection was the result of an anonymous compliant by phone sent to the Fire Marshal’s Office on Sunday, Oct. 17.
“I was disappointed,” Grace Place Apartments resident Calvin Williams said. “This is my home.”
Williams’ friend, Saleem Yusif, was helping him move his things back into the apartment Wednesday evening.
“It felt good helping him before the holidays, and I hope that he can enjoy his holidays like everybody else in his home,” Yusif said.
Roosevelt Miles, the friend of another resident, said that tenants were told they could reoccupy the building earlier in the day on Wednesday.
“I was riding back on the bus and he called me,” Miles said. “He said, ‘Man, guess what? We get to move back in our building tonight,’ and I was like, ‘Man, that’s a blessing,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, that sure is a blessing right before Thanksgiving.'”
Residents told 8News that they were forced to leave back in October after the building was deemed unlivable without warning. A spokesperson for Richmond Fire & Emergency Services told 8News that it is the property owner/management’s responsibility to notify tenants and cover temporary housing costs.
“I was just wondering where he going to stay at, and it was very sudden,” Yusif said. “I’m assuming people will move back, but I’m also sure people probably will have found alternative housing.”
Property records show that the $2.6 million building has 58 units. A spokesperson for Richmond Fire & Emergency Services said that, as of Nov. 5, the building had 56 individuals in 42 units.
“They should’ve kept it up to code, and then people wouldn’t have had to come out in the cold like that and be displaced right at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Miles said. “That’s very inconvenient.”
The inspection from city officials at the end of October determined that repairs needed to be made to fire suppression systems, elevators and alarm systems. The fire department had also said that it would be ensuring the building is structurally sound before people could begin living there again.
Miles, Yusif and Williams all said that they were overjoyed to learn Wednesday that residents could reoccupy the building after repairs had been made.
“There’s nothing like living in your own home,” Miles said. “Nothing like being in your own home on Thanksgiving.”
Williams said that he had left some of his belongings in the apartment, hoping he would be able to return soon.
“It’s so good to be home,” he said. “I’m back!”