Elderly residents' apartment concerns

June 10, 2008 10:33:57 PM PDT
Some elderly Houstonians say their apartment homes aren't what they were promised when they moved in and they claim their land lord isn't responding to complaintsSo Eyewitness News did a little digging on that property owner.

Retired author Katherine Donnelly and her neighbors say they moved to Park at Bellaire Apartments because they thought it would be a good place to spend their later years.

"It definitely says premium retirement living," said concerned resident Dorothy Denkins.

But these women say that doesn't describe their surroundings.

And claim a dirty pool, worn chairs and a broken washer are just the beginning of a laundry list of problems.

"I think we are abused elderly senior citizens here," said concerned resident Katherine Donnelly

Maria Paul lives on the second floor and says using the elevator is no longer an option to get home or to help with carrying groceries.

"I wanted to move to an apartment downstairs and they said I have to pay $400 just for the moving out," she said.

"This elevator has been out, off and on for seven years," Donnelly said. "This last time at least two months."

The women also claim phone service has gone in and out.

"We couldn't call out, nobody could call us, we didn't know what was going on," Denkins told us.

And they say when they call 911, dispatchers only receive a main address of the complex, not individual apartments.

"To me that could be very, very fatal to our residents," Denkins said.

The city tells Eyewitness News they were forced to shut down the elevators because the owner has not complied with safety inspections and permits.

"We're sensitive to the plight of the residents," said Gary Norman with the City of Houston Public Works Department. "We know it's not easy walking up and down stairs, especially for older Houstonians, but our overriding concern has to be public safety."

The owner has not returned our calls but Eyewitness News has learned the same manager was charged in 2005 for violating fair housing laws at his Pasadena facility after an incident involving a disabled woman and inoperable elevator.

For many who call this Chimney Rock Road address home, they fear help will come too late.

"I'm afraid somebody would've died by then," Denkins worried.

The city says while the complex claims to cater to senior residents, because it is not an official senior assisted living facility, there are few provisions for them to step in. The city says what it can do is continue to cite the property owner until he complies with the code.

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