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Seniors Fed Up With Conditions At CHA Apartment Building In Englewood Want Change

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mice, flooding and one elevator for almost 200 people are just some of the problems seniors living in one Chicago Housing Authority property are dealing with. These issues are not new for the people living in the Vivian Carter Apartments in Englewood.

In the past year, the Department of Buildings has issued violations for the 14-story building related to the elevators, plumbing and other issues. There are three court hearings approaching in June and July, and the seniors living in the building say they want the problems fixed.

On the seventh and ninth floors of the Vivian Carter Apartments there are complaints of mice.

"They be all up on the stove. They all on top of the cabinets and everything. It's just ridiculous," said resident Bobbie Lewis.

"You see the mice in the hallway, the stairwell," said Stan Davis, another resident.

Resident Edward Johnson gave CBS 2 pictures of two mice behind his stove on a glue trap. The photos were taken Monday morning inside his fifth floor unit. He said he listened to the mice make noise all night until a friend could move the stove and see the mice on the glue trap.

Johnson uses a motorized wheelchair. He said there has only been one working elevator to service all 14 floors of the building since February. Nearly 200 seniors call the CHA's Vivian Carter Apartments building home. Lewis said the only working elevator breaks down often -- most recently last Friday.

"People downstairs, on the first floor, some in wheelchairs, some in walkers, and they couldn't get back upstairs," he said.

Seniors also said flooding is an issue. 

"Water coming up through the floor of my apartment in the bathroom," Lewis said.

"My whole apartment gets flooded, kitchen, bathroom, into the living room," said Betty Maddox.

John McFarland and Lawrence Nelson say they ended up moving because of the conditions. 

"I was glad to get out of here," Nelson said. "I've been gone now three years, and things have only gotten worse."

McFarland said his unit on the second floor flooded 20 times. He shared a photo, which he says is his kitchen sink, filled with water.

"My main problem was the flooding and the water coming up, the sewer water, black water, coming up through the kitchen sink," McFarland said.

Lindsay Graves is the President of the Vivian Carter Apartments local advisory council. 

"I've been fighting this battle a long time," she said.

Graves said he sent a letter to the CEO of the CHA and Mayor Lori Lightfoot to address the elevator concerns. He said he has gotten no response.

"We just want to be treated like human beings," he said.

The CHA said they will address all of Graves' concerns. They are updating the elevators one at a time. They say if one breaks down, technicians are dispatched immediately. Both should be in use by the fall. An ex

The CHA says they will address all of Mr. Graves' concerns and released the following statement:

CHA takes the health and safety of all its residents, especially seniors, very seriously and we are committed to ensuring that all of our properties are safe and operational. We appreciate Mr. Graves bringing these matters to our attention and will continue to work to address all of the concerns he has raised.

CHA is in the midst of an elevator modernization program, which includes updating the elevators at Vivian Carter Apartments. Because many of these elevators have been in operation since the 1950s and 60s, the scope of the project is significant.

In buildings with two elevators (like Vivian Carter) one elevator is modernized at a time, ensuring that there is always one working elevator. If the working elevator requires maintenance for any reason, it is treated as an emergency and technicians are dispatched immediately. Property management staff conducts well-being checks during this time and employees are stationed on the floors with the most vulnerable populations.

We expect the elevator modernization project at Vivian Carter to be completed this fall.

Unfortunately, because of Covid restrictions, capacities in the elevators have also been temporarily limited, which we recognize increases wait times. We understand the frustration and we continue to ask for patience from residents and visitors during this time. As restrictions are lifted, we are continuing to reassess these capacity limits.

With regards to the other concerns Mr. Graves has raised, we are working to address these issues as quickly as possible. Last month, an exterminator started a weekly mice treatment program and they are taking proactive measures to prevent any issues moving forward.

The Department of Buildings released the following statement:

In the past year, the Department of Building (DOB) completed three inspections at 6401 S. Yale Ave. and issued violations related to the elevators, plumbing  and other interior and exterior code issues. DOB referred the violations to Administrative Hearings in four separate cases:

- Two cases related to the elevators, one is continued to July 7, 2021 and the second has a first hearing date of June 10, 2021.

- One case related to the plumbing and other violations is continued to June 7, 2021.

- One case related to various various interior and exterior violations was nonsuited for compliance on April 2, 2021.


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