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Published: Tuesday, 7/30/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Alpha Towers residents: Problems worsen

U.S.-subsidized apartment building accused of ignoring rules

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Exterior of the Alpha Towers in Toledo, Ohio. The Fair Housing Center has filed a complaint against Alpha Towers for non-working elevators, beds bugs, and other issues. Exterior of the Alpha Towers in Toledo, Ohio. The Fair Housing Center has filed a complaint against Alpha Towers for non-working elevators, beds bugs, and other issues.
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Jeffrey Fisher thought when problems in his federally funded apartment building came to light last year , it would lead to solutions for residents’ problems.

Instead, “things got worse,” said Mr. Fisher, who lives at Alpha Towers, 525 E. Woodruff Ave. in central Toledo.

Among the reported problems are a broken elevator and bed bugs that Mr. Fisher says have crept into his ninth-floor apartment recently.

“I get bit all the time,” said Mr. Fisher, 62, president of the building tenants’ association.

Late last year, several residents at the nine-story, 165-unit complex complained that elevators in the building had not been working correctly for some time.

The ongoing complaints prompted an investigation this year by the Toledo Fair Housing Center, which sent a letter Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“We have filed complaints with [HUD] and have written to Alpha Towers on behalf of their tenants’ association requesting reasonable accommodations for a myriad of issues,” said Michael Marsh, the fair housing center’s president.

“The elevators are still in need of repair, the building is infested with bed bugs, [and] a tenant with a disability was denied a reasonable accommodation to have a parking space designated for her closer to the building entrance.”

The fair housing center also passed along Mr. Fisher’s allegation that the building’s management has interfered with the tenants’ right to organize.

The apartment building not far from downtown is a project-based Section 8 complex, meaning it is privately owned but receives a federal subsidy from HUD to provide low-income housing.

Jeffrey Fisher, president of the Alpha Towers residents’ association, sits in his apartment Tuesday. Mr. Fisher sleeps on an air mattress because of an infestation of bed bugs. The Fair Housing Center has filed a complaint against Alpha Towers for nonworking elevators, bed bugs, and other issues. Jeffrey Fisher, president of the Alpha Towers residents’ association, sits in his apartment Tuesday. Mr. Fisher sleeps on an air mattress because of an infestation of bed bugs. The Fair Housing Center has filed a complaint against Alpha Towers for nonworking elevators, bed bugs, and other issues.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Housing department records show the complex is owned by Maryland-based New Alpha Housing Limited Partnership and is managed by the Donaldson Group LLC, also based in Maryland.

The complex’s management did not respond to telephone calls from The Blade.

The maximum monthly rent the building’s owners can receive from HUD is $115,788.

Elevators in Ohio are inspected by the state’s Department of Commerce. Inspection records state both elevators were installed in 1976.

Resident William Craig, 78, said he was aboard one of the building’s elevators when it plunged several stories three years ago.

“I was in it when it fell, from the eighth floor to about the fourth,” Mr. Craig said. “It has been broken for years and they have been patching it up ever since that happened. It looks like they are moving now faster than they were.”

The building has two elevators, and one was working Tuesday, but residents said it often fails.

In November, the elevator malfunctions kept 88-year-old Laura Gipson from getting to her second-floor apartment from the ground floor. Like many Alpha Towers residents, she uses a motorized wheelchair and can’t climb stairs.

Diana Patton, the fair housing center’s general counsel, said the building’s management has not been communicating.

“One resident passed away and finally, after a couple of days, they went up to check and they had to take the dead body out of the apartment dragging the body bag because they couldn’t get the gurney on the elevator,” Ms. Patton said. “These individuals are getting federal money and not abiding by the laws they are supposed to be.”

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.



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