ON YOUR SIDE: Family still looking for new home after Grace Place Apt fire

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A former tenant of a condemned apartment building calls 12 pleading for help finding a new home for her family.

You may remember the frantic scene back in January, when Grace Place Apartments was condemned.

50 people, many with mental and physical disabilities, were told to get out on a moment's notice. A resident is accused of tampering with the indoor sprinklers, causing the entire building to flood.

One month later, the building is still uninhabitable - and one family is days away from being homeless.

Alicia Funches says she and her two daughters will be homeless after Thursday night. They've been living in a hotel since January.

Alicia claims promises were made to help tenants relocate, but as of today, very little help has been provided.

We met Alicia Funches at a motel on Midlothian Turnpike, where she's been staying since that life-changing flood uprooted her family from Grace Place Apartments - a $240 a week motel room.

"Not having my own home, I think of that everyday," said Alicia. "I've lost my place of living. I've just about lost all of my things I had in storage. The only thing I have now is my children, my faith."

Alicia says she's run out of money. She's requested her $700 security deposit be returned, but she really wants her former landlord to relocate her to a different property because holding on, she says, has become too difficult.

"They promised they would relocate all the families. They promised we would get our money back in a timely manner. I'm still in the same predicament that I was in on January 22."

Grace Place Apartments is in transition. The new building managers, Great Richmond Rentals, took over February 15 from Thalhimer, Chushman Wakefield Alliance. I put a call into them, but we haven't connected.

The former management company says the building is being restored, but when tenants can move back in remains uncertain. They also say they've worked to help displaced tenants, and a security deposit will be returned 45 days after the lease is terminated.

Alicia argues the tragedy terminated the lease. She refuses to sign additional papers.

"It's telling me to say I want to break the lease because of the City of Richmond. The City of Richmond actually broke my lease when they condemned the building on the 15th of January. All I want is a new place to live for me and my family. Somewhere, someone calls me and says they have a piece of property for rent and I am able to move in, like... tomorrow. That would be a blessing for me."

We're not sure who owns the building. Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority tells me, it owns the land - but neither owns or manages the apartments.

RRHA says it did help six people, who receive rent subsidy vouchers from them, find new living arrangements.

If you can help Alicia and her family, call 345-1212.

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