CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - Nineteen families lost their homes when a fire tore through a Cambridge condo complex in 2021. 

Nearly three years later, they still can’t return home even though they’re still paying monthly condo fees.

7 Investigates recently looked into why this is happening, speaking to 80-year-old Julia Dubnoff, who is frustrated by the boarded-up windows and the damage to her condo complex. 

“They said ‘Well, those three apartments, you would be displaced for eight months,’” she said.

Eight months has turned into nearly three years.

In total, 19 units at the Continental Gardens were gutted on Jan. 13, 2021, with their residents forced to find other places to stay. 

Some live with families. Others are renting while still paying condo fees. 

“I also have to pay for the condo plus I have to pay for temporary housing,” Dubnoff said. “So, I’ve been living off of savings for almost three years and I’m going broke.” 

FirstService Residential, which oversees the building, told 7 Investigates that “supply chain delays and unforeseen challenges have affected the timeline” and its “team is working closely with the insurance professionals and construction company to expedite the process and overcome barriers.” 

But tenants say they haven’t been kept up to date.

“Right now, I’m just crushed,” Dubnoff said. 

Tenants said they heard in July that the project would be completed by Nov. 17. But it is still not finished. 

“Every guess that I’ve had is wrong,” said displaced resident Lew Lasher. 

“I think a lot of the owners would say they do cycle through sort of anger and then just helplessness,” said fellow displaced resident Amy Pompell. 

FirstService Residential received more than $5.8 million in insurance money to demolish and reconstruct damaged units. 

As of Aug. 31, more than $5.6 million had been spent on the project.

Residents believed that money would cover the construction. But now, they’re afraid it won’t be enough. 

“It’s hard to look at a space like this and not know,” Pompell said. “To make progress, you need materials. To get materials, you need to order the materials.”

FirstService told 7 Investigates that they “deeply empathize with those who have been displaced from their homes and understand their frustration as they await repairs.” They “are committed to transparent communication and will continue to hold bimonthly meetings with affected residents to provide them with the latest updates.” 

“People pay no attention,” Dubnoff said. “Nobody seems to care.”

With no end in sight, residents say they are not giving up without a fight. 

“All these people want is to move back into their homes,” Pompell said. 

When 7 Investigates asked FirstService Residential about those unforeseen circumstances and possible financial shortcomings, they said they could not disclose that information. 

Residents told 7’s Dave Puglisi they still don’t have a date to return home. 

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