89.1 WEMU

Senior Citizens At Ypsilanti Housing Complex Say They Feel Unsafe

Aug 16, 2016

Towne Centre Place in Ypsilanti.
Credit WEMU

A lot of attention is being focused on a Washtenaw County senior housing complex because of malfunctioning equipment in the building that has residents feeling trapped and unsafe.  But the situation is not only affecting the elderly. 


Alison Foreman is the executive director of Ypsilanti's Meals on Wheels.  She is climbing eleven flights of stairs at the Towne Centre Place apartments in Ypsilanti because the elevators don't always work there, but she, along with volunteer Ray Martell, need to deliver meals to senior citizens.  

"Instead of it taking 30 t0 40 minutes, we're taking closer to two hours, so then, that delays them to other stops that they need to make.  And a lot of our clients rely on our meals at a specific time so they can take their medication."

In a statement, Forest City Realty Trust, who owns the buildings, told WEMU that both elevators have been operational since Sunday around noon.  But as we delivered meals in the building, we came upon Liz.  She, like other residents who I interviewed, did not want their last names to be used.  

"I guess they're going in the elevator.  Didn't you hear the buzzer ring?"

During our food delivery, I did see just one of the elevators somewhat working.  But every time I passed by one, if a tenant was waiting for it, they complained about it like Liz did.  

"I was scared.  Should I hide in there too?  Oh no."  

Other residents, like Ed, say the elevator situation is a fire hazard.  

"I could probably go downstairs, but not fast enough."

Meanwhile, Patricia, who also lives there and can't use the stairs because she's had several operations, says she feels trapped, even when crews try to fix the elevators.  

"The passenger elevator was breaking down three and four times a day.  If Otis was here, we would be locked out of our apartments.  We couldn't go upstairs for five or six hours."

Ray volunteered with Meals on Wheels for the first time after hearing about this issue.  

"Then there was--Who was it?--Debbie Dingell's recommending for the relocation of the tenants here.  I knew that it had to be serious at that point.  Then I decided I need to get involved somehow, so here I am.

If the elevators are not working, residents who have doctors' appointments sometimes can't get out. 

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— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News.  Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him javellan@emich.edu