by Candice Williams, The Express-Times
Wednesday, August 07, 2002
FOUNTAIN HILL — Claims of unsanitary living conditions in a senior citizen high-rise and a possible illegal boarding house topped residents concerns at the regular council meeting Monday.
Four residents of the Clarence Aungst Towers at 1101 Seneca St. appeared before council to plead for help in securing a clean and sanitary environment at the eight-story senior citizen high-rise.
Owned and operated by the Lehigh County Housing Authority, the building contains about 75 apartments, according to the seniors.
Lehigh County Housing Authority Executive Director John Seitz, who declined to comment when contacted Tuesday, recommended speaking directly with the building’s program manager, Bernadette Taylor. Repeated efforts to contact Taylor were unsuccessful.
Aungst Towers resident Suzanne Irish, who has lived in the building since 1994, again appeared before council to discuss concerns she has raised in past meetings.
Irish said a series of health issues such as garbage removal, mold and soiled carpeting remain.
"Many of our residents are afraid to come and speak out," Irish said. "They are frail and weak. They are afraid of being evicted."
Council President Sherwood Kershner informed Irish that both he and borough Secretary Randy Soriano recently met with Seitz.
"I understand new carpeting will be installed before the end of the year," Kershner said.
Another building resident, Georgene Moyer, who said she suffers from a low white blood cell count, said the building’s unsanitary conditions can be harmful to her.
"We need a full-time maintenance and sanitation staff," said Moyer, a six-year resident.
Council members said their hands are tied concerning some of the issues raised, but did promise to help with health and safety issues.
Council discussed the possibility of asking the state Board of Health to inspect the building.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesperson John Carpenter said the Clarence Aungst Towers complex is inspected annually. It was last inspected in December 2001, and scored 99 out of 100 points for health and safety, Carpenter said.
"There were no pressing health or safety concerns," Carpenter said from Philadelphia on Tuesday. "We at HUD care that residents have a safe and decent place to live."
In other business, Delaware Avenue resident David A. Repyneck said he has become disgusted with what may be an illegally-operating boarding house near his single-family home.
A personnel officer with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Repyneck said he believes at least six unrelated individuals rent rooms in the six-bedroom dwelling.
Repyneck said the building is so filthy that cockroaches from it have moved into his home. Police get called to the building regularly, residents and guests drink booze in the open and dog feces is everywhere, he said.
Repyneck asked borough officials to do something.
"I’m sick of it. I’ve had it," Repyneck said.
Council members said the house has been on their radar screen since complaints first arose a year ago, and acknowledged that action should have been taken then. Council members pledged to take action within the next 10 days.