Detroit City Council hears residents’ tales of roaches and mold
by Erik Lords, Free Press staff writer October 16, 2002
Perralene Madison, 62, says she never had to live with roaches, until now. Myldred Wray, another senior citizen, says she never lived with black mold growing on her walls, until now.
Madison and Wray were among a group of residents who appeared before the Detroit City Council on Tuesday to voice concerns about the city Housing Commission’s lack of maintenance and repairs at the Sheridan One senior-citizen complex on East Jefferson.
The residents said they have only one cleaning person for the 13-story building, which has about 200 units. They also said there are too few maintenance workers for the repairs needed. Intercoms are defective, and there are roof leaks, they said.
The result, they said: Their homes are unsafe and unhealthy.
“We’ve got roaches coming through the building now because of the filth we are living in,” Madison told council members. “The elevators aren’t working properly, and somebody gets stuck in them just about every day.”
Gwen Hawkins, president of the resident council at Sheridan One, said: “In the lobby there are leaks, and they usually just put garbage cans out there catching the water. It’s tile on those floors, and people could slip and fall.”
Duane Walker, general manager of housing operations with the Housing Commission, said, “We have four maintenance men. . . . I don’t know why they are saying there is only one.”
Walker, who insisted the Housing Commission has done right by the residents, said he has not seen mold or roaches in the units, and exterminators are scheduled to visit every 90 days. They will visit on a resident’s request within 24 hours, he said.
“We always encourage the residents to seek redress for their issues internally first. Sometimes, the residents get overzealous and circumvent us. But it’s not like we are sitting over here ignoring residents,” Walker said. “We are diligently responding to their requests for assistance.”
At least some residents don’t think so.
Wray wrote a poem about the troubles at the complex and read it to the council: “The cheerleaders are performing. The game has just begun. I’ve handed you the bat, now hit that ball and run.”
Council members agreed to tour the complex in the next month and promised to take action.
Madison, who has lived in Sheridan One for three years, said residents have taken complaints to the council in the past and have had good results.
“We have very few people to turn to but City Council,” Madison said. “They have been very helpful in the past. I know they will help us this time.”