PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – Frustrated seniors say a broken elevator has essentially trapped the most vulnerable tenants inside their government-subsidized apartments for weeks. 8 On Your Side Investigates is now getting results for the elderly and disabled tenants who are the most directly impacted.
“It’s depressing to stay here all day and all night long,” said Marilyn Sheppard.
The 74-year-old lives at Oceanside Estates on 102nd Avenue in Pinellas Park.
According to the property owner, the elevator has been out of service since a fire broke out in the electrical room on May 31. Scott Muoio, the Senior Asset Manager at Vitus, tells 8 On Your Side the problem could persist until the first week in October.
According to Muoio, owners are working as fast as they can to resolve this issue. He says the necessary elevator parts for this old building must be manufactured and the delay is unavoidable.
Meanwhile, some seniors like Sheppard, have been suffering in silence.
“I use my cane in one hand and I’m hanging on with dear life to the handrail with the other,” she said.
Sheppard, who uses a walker, has only left her apartment for mandatory doctor visits since the elevator went out. More than 30 other senior tenants have been impacted in the building. They live on the second and third floors.
“It’s difficult to get down, it’s even more difficult to get your groceries up,” said veteran Floyd Smith, 77.
Many seniors were afraid to speak out about this issue on camera. These tenants, who pay reduced rent, said they didn’t want to be identified as trouble. However, Smith had no such fear.
“I think somebody needs to light a fire under the owners of this complex and to get it moving,” he said.
A few days after 8 On Your Side’s investigation, residents say management posted a notice on their doors that offered up a free hotel room.
Sheppard is one of the tenants taking management up on the offer.
8 On Your Side Investigates also notified HUD about the broken elevator.
HUD spokeswoman Gloria Shanahan said that HUD-subsidized housing must meet accessibility for the tenants. That appears to be happening with the hotel accommodations.
In a statement, she said:
“If a tenant has a situation that is not properly solved by the property management, it can be escalated to the HUD contract administrator, North Tampa Housing Development. The telephone for tenants to call is 1-800-982-5232.”
Alternatively, tenants can also email complaints to PBCAContactCenter@cgifederal.com.
The Director of North Tampa Housing tells 8 On Your Side Investigates they will follow-up until the situation is fully resolved.
We’re still digging into potential code violations with regards to the broken elevator. 8 On Your Side will continue to follow this story.