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Unsafe balconies at Essex Village fixed after inspection

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Six balconies at the Essex Village apartment complex in Henrico have been fixed since county inspectors deemed them unsafe following an inspection earlier this month. The county conducted balcony inspections at the Section 8 housing complex after a pregnant woman fell through a broken second-story balcony in late May.

The unsafe building notices highlighted issues with pickets not being secured on the balconies, deteriorated balcony railings and deck boards, and separation of connections between balcony railings and the building.

A seventh balcony deemed unsafe following an initial inspection has not been re-inspected. The county was not able to access the balcony because the tenant was not home.

About 1,600 people who earn a low-income wage live in Essex Village, near Richmond International Raceway.

After several weeks of documentation by CBS 6, which took viewers inside the deplorable conditions suffered by residents, Congressman Donald McEachin (D - Henrico) responded with a call for equality, improvement, and accountability. [Read: Investigation uncovers mice, roaches, sewage and mold at Henrico complex]

"No family deserves to live in conditions such as the one documented at Essex Village," Rep. McEachin said in a released statement. "All individuals – no matter their race, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation – should be treated fairly and have safe and clean shelter."

Last summer, Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas created a task force led by Deputy County Manager Colonel Doug Middleton, aimed at improving the quality of life at the complex. By November, county building inspectors opened 140 code violation cases at Essex Village.

Then in January 2017, inspectors from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave Essex Village an "F" grade.

"It's disgusting to me that anyone drawing federal funds to the level they were drawing them to get into the condition it was in and not care," Middleton said.

GHC Housing Partners, which owns the complex, said it was taking steps to improve living conditions there.

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