CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) –
Cleveland 19’s investigative team has uncovered a city-wide issue that is putting thousands of Cleveland residents at risk.
Each year, the Cleveland Division of Fire responds to hundreds of calls for people trapped in elevators.
Records show many of those calls are for rescues at senior housing complexes, like the Euclid Beach Club Apartments on East 156th Street.
“That elevator goes out all the time just about,” said Euclid Beach Club resident Theresa Hudson.
Hudson has been living in the 15-story apartment building for almost six years, and in that time, she says the building has been plagued with elevator problems.
“It’s broke down more than it’s working,” said Hudson.
On June 4, Hudson called 911 to report that people were trapped in an elevator. The 77-year-old says she has been trapped before too.
City records show seniors living at the Euclid Beach Club aren’t the only ones getting stuck. The Cleveland Fire Department was called to the neighboring Euclid Beach Villa Apartments at least ten times in 2017 to rescue residents who were trapped in elevators.
In fact, since 2011, Cleveland Fire has responded to more than 70 rescue calls between the two apartment buildings, which are owned by the same company.
Hudson’s concerns aren’t just for the people getting stuck on elevators. She says she is also worried about her elderly and disabled neighbors who are unable to use the stairs and end up trapped in their apartments, sometimes for days, when the elevators break down.
“That’s not right! Elderly people in wheelchairs, they can’t get down there. [If] a fire break out, what we gonna do?” said Hudson.
“They can’t just be going up and down 16 floors of steps,” said Freddie Holman, a Euclid Beach Club resident of four years.
“I am concerned about the elderly people here in their seventies, eighties and nineties that are in desperate need of getting around in here and they are not able to.” said Holman. He told us many of the seniors who live in the complex are too afraid to speak up.
“If you go down stairs to the office and you make your concern known then they want to threaten you with eviction,” said Holman.
“How many times have you been threatened?” Cleveland 19’s Julian Glover asked Holman in an interview. “All the time,” Holman replied.
No former residents have told Cleveland 19 that they were evicted for expressing concerns, and on-site property managers deny any claims that residents have been threatened.
“Never feel threatened,” said Cleveland City Councilman Michael Polensek, who represents Ward 8.
“Anyone in management that threatens them, I want to know who that person is, because they’re in for a treat dealing with me,” said Polensek.
The councilman wasn’t the least bit surprised when we told him how many times the fire department has been called for elevator rescues at the Euclid Beach Apartments. He told us he has been fielding complaints from concerned seniors for years.
“That’s why every time an elevator goes down, and one of the residents call me, I have city folks come out here and inspect the elevators,” Polensek said.
On Monday, inspectors with the city’s Department of Building and Housing issued the Euclid Beach Apartments three elevator violations. Between the two buildings, the city has issued a total of 28 elevator violations since 2006.
“I don’t care if it’s City Hall of wherever, you’re gonna have elevators go down,” said Polensek. “But it’s all about maintenance, so they have to do a much better job of maintaining the elevators [and] maintaining the buildings in general.”
The assistant property manager at the Euclid Beach Club Apartments refused to talk to us about the issues on camera, so we reached out to SHP Management Corp., a Maine company that recently took over property management duties at the Euclid Beach Club and Villa Apartments.
In a written statement to Cleveland 19, SHP said,
“Prior to assuming management of Euclid Beach Club and Euclid Beach Villa on April 5, 2018, SHP Management Corp. was not made aware of any issues with the elevators at either property.
Since assuming management of the properties there has been one issue with the elevators at Euclid Beach Club. When SHP was notified of the problem we promptly brought in an elevator contractor who corrected the issue.”
READ MORE: Cleveland19.com
Article Courtesy of WOIO Cleveland 19 News
First Picture Courtesy of Andia and Getty Images
Second Picture Courtesy of Sergei Savostyanov and Getty Images