BUFFALO, NY - Residents of the Marine Drive Apartments say the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA) is ignoring their complaints about persistent problems in their buildings.
The latest: broken elevators at the Ebbtide Building at 79 Marine Drive that left some residents unable to enter their homes for several hours on Thursday.
According to 17-year resident John Nostrant, one of the building’s two elevators went down on Wednesday and remained broken.
“That elevator breaks down at least one day every week," Nostrant said, adding that tenants placed calls to the BMHA seeking to get it repaired.
Then, according to Nostrant, the second elevator failed on Thursday leaving the 12 story, 67-year-old structure without a working elevator.
Nostrant told WGRZ-TV that when he arrived home on Thursday afternoon, several of his neighbors were sitting outside the building.
It left Nostrant, who lives on the top story of the tower, facing a daunting task for a 76-year old.
“I had some place to go, so I had to climb the stairs…12 stories to my apartment,” he said. “That’s not easy when you are 76.”
84-year-old Wes Brewer, who uses a walker and cannot climb stairs, had no choice but to remain outside.
“I waited for the elevator for three hours and 45 minutes. It sure was frustrating because there’s no lavatory outside,” he said.
Unable to get any response from the BMHA, or any assistance from the city's 311 service, or even 911, Nostrant eventually hailed a passing firefighter, who he said took matters into his own hands.
"He had a number to call, which we don’t have,” recalled Nostrant. “That fireman got a hold of someone obviously, because not long after that the elevator people came."
The elevator inspection stickers that are supposed to be posted in each car are instead displayed in a case on the building’s first floor.
We also noticed that they expired several years ago.
However, tenants say the elevators represent just one of the problems they consistently deal with, and which they claim are not being addressed in a timely manner by the BMHA.
According to Nostrant, entrance doors to the buildings are often left propped open because the intercoms at those entrances consistently fail to function.
His claim was backed up by a neighbor, Tony Roman.
“You’ve got elderly people living here that need their home care worker aids, and they can’t get in!" exclaimed Roman.
"As a matter of fact, I was leaving last week, and a lady came running across saying ‘hold the door’ and she was trying to get in because she had to come in and take care of somebody…how long is it gonna take to fix that? "
“The BMHA is terrible," said Nostrant. “You can’t get a window screen, you can’t get a light bulb fixed, you can’t get anything done without going through all types of hoops…and then it takes weeks to materialize," he said.
Two on Your Side placed six calls to Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority Director Dawn Sanders-Garrett on Friday, each time getting a busy signal.
We then visited her office and asked to speak with her, only to be told that she was not in.
We gave our contact information to an assistant who promised to pass it along to Sanders-Garrett.
As of Friday evening, she had not contacted us.
“The real reason most people are here is because of the rent, which is really good," said Nostrant.
The housing that Marine Drive provides is government subsidized and therefore very affordable.
And while Nostrant knows there are some who would suggest that “you get what you pay for,” he says, that's not what tenants deserve.
“I’ve heard people say, ‘what do you expect?' But what I say is, that I expect what I should get. Even if I’m paying $1,000 a month for rent. Ordinary things…like this property being taken care of. The BMHA should be looking out for its tenants and taking care of things here like a good landlord should do. And the BMHA is simply a bad landlord,” he said.