More than 270 residents can or have moved into Maplewood Apartments following a delay announced on Aug. 13, just a week before the move-in date, according to Dawn Ray, vice president of corporate communications and marketing for EdR. However, 186 residents still remain displaced according to Ray.
The delay announced in August follows a previous delay — announced July 18 — that originally displaced 106 students for a projected four to six weeks, The Sun previously reported. This new delay displaced at least 200 more residents, only some of whom have been allowed to move in as of yet.
Maplewood Apartments originally announced the second delay in an email to residents on Aug. 13, a week before the Aug. 20 move-in date. The 272 Residents were given three days to decide whether they wanted to cancel their lease, opt for temporary stay in a hotel, stay with a friend or rent a residence for the short-term.
For those who canceled the lease, the cancellation would be penalty-free, and previous fees and payments would be refunded, according to an email sent out to residents. Those who chose to stay in hotel accomodations arranged by Maplewood would receive a $100 Visa gift card per day.
Residents who chose to stay with a friend or rent a place themselves would receive a $200 Visa gift card per day. No rent payments would begin until residents’ official move-in, according to the email.
The delay is partially a result of the newly-constructed units lacking written approval from the Town of Ithaca. The Town of Ithaca Planning Board previously granted in April Maplewood extended construction hours to resolve construction delays.
The Maplewood townhouses continue to be gradually approved as safe for move in by the Town of Ithaca. Some townhouses were approved on Monday.
“We were hopeful we would get final written approval from the Town of Ithaca on Friday,” said Ray. “We learned late Friday afternoon/early evening [August 17] that approval would be pushed until Monday [August 20]. We alerted residents as quickly as we heard that information.”
On Wednesday, building C, one of the Maplewood apartments, was approved. On Thursday afternoon, the Town of Ithaca gave written approval for another apartment, building B, to be utilized, according to Ray, allowing more students to move in.
“They have screwed me over,” said Deepak Sirwani grad, one of the students supposed to move into Maplewood on Aug. 20, about the delay. An international student, Sirwani was accompanied by family members to move in.
Sirwani had to find a place for himself and his family members, so he booked an apartment for two weeks. His concern was that if the Maplewood opened before two weeks, which was the maximum delay the company projected, Maplewood would not reimburse him for the money he spent on the alternate apartment that he already booked for the next 14 days. Maplewood has only pledged to pay $200 for every day that the delay continues – not to reimburse all expenditures on alternate living arrangements. According to Sirwani, the matter remains unresolved.
Since he won’t get paid as a Ph.D. student until August 31, the arrangement has created a fiscal strain, on top of other challenges, according to Sirwani.
“It has taken my mental and emotional energy,” said Sirwani. “I just changed continents. I didn’t expect to deal with things like this here.”
“This entire incident has caused anxiety,” said Sai Chand Chintala grad. “This is our 3rd week in Ithaca. Ideally, we should have settled down by now.”
“Maplewood hasn’t been transparent about the delay,” said Chintala. “They just mention one to two weeks without a definite timeline.”
“Whether you are a new or returning student, the start of any academic year can be stressful, and access to housing should not be an added factor,” wrote Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi in response to the delay.
“We have communicated our strong displeasure about these issues to the leadership of the company,” wrote Lombardi.
EdR is a collegiate housing company contracted by the University to construct residential housing. The delay in Maplewood Housing has been cited by local unions as part of the “Does Cornell Care” campaign, The Sun previously reported.
According to Ray, Maplewood is “working very closely with the [Town of Ithaca] to get students moved in as quickly as possible.”
Some of Maplewood’s buildings are still in inspection stages, according to Ray. They aim to have 492 students moved in by Sep. 1. It is unclear whether that number accounts for all students who signed housing contracts with Maplewood, leaving open the possibility that students will be left without housing even after the end of August.