Laura Gipson does her best to stay active and socialize with her neighbors in her building's community room, where she often goes to eat lunch or play bingo with other residents.
But Ms. Gipson, 88, had a nasty shock after a recent Saturday afternoon bingo session. When her game ended around 5 p.m., she discovered her building's elevator wasn't working, and she was unable to get from the first floor to her second-floor apartment. She had to wait until 11 that evening until someone could be called who could operate the elevator.
“I was scared,” she said, recalling the situation. “I didn't know what I was going to do.”
Ms. Gipson, like many residents in her building — Alpha Towers, 525 East Woodruff Ave. in central Toledo — uses a motorized wheelchair and can’t climb stairs.
Residents at the nine-story, 165-unit complex complain that the elevators in the building haven't worked correctly for some time. They say they are fed up. The building has hire part-time temporary employees to manually operate one of two elevators that are still functioning.
“We’ve asked about it,” said Jeffrey Fisher, 62, president of the building's residents' association. “We [haven’t gotten] answers.”
The apartment is a project-based Section 8 complex, meaning it is privately owned but receives a subsidy from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for providing low-income housing. HUD 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 messages 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. Their most recent inspections were in September; minor violations were noted in both elevators. Every passenger elevator in the state is inspected twice annually, according to the department.
Norman Martin, the state’s chief elevator inspector, said the working elevator in the building is safe, as it has a certificate of operation.
Resident Redie Peterson, 72, said she often must walk up eight flights of stairs to reach her apartment. “This is my third defibrillator in my heart,” she said, gesturing to her chest. “I’m not supposed to come up the stairs. I had chest pains.”
William Craig, 78, who also uses a motorized wheelchair, has been wary of the elevators since an incident about two years ago.
After getting onto the elevator from the eighth floor, he said, “ heard something go ‘boom,’ like an explosion. I felt like I was going 100 miles an hour. I said, ‘Oh, Lord.’ ” Mr. Craig said the elevator stopped between the fourth and fifth floors, where he was able to call for help.
Added Donetta Hayes, another resident, “I feel sorry for the older people in here. Shouldn’t nobody have to go through this. Everybody pays rent.”
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