Efforts were under way Thursday to get a broken elevator fixed at Tacoma's McKinley Terrace Housing Complex. It had been out of operation since July, making many invalid seniors feel like prisoners trapped in their own rooms.
Tacoma fire code inspectors were on site Thursday and making sure the paperwork was done to get the elevator fixed and that the building was safe for people who live there. But the seniors were still very frustrated, saying they’ve been complaining for months about the conditions.
"We’ve been complaining about this for a long time,” resident Charolet Nicholson said.
Ben Bymers, a 62-year-old resident of McKinley Terrace, said a day earlier that he hasn’t stepped outside in two months.
“I get around down to the end of the hall or out in the commons,” Bymers said. “That’s it, period.”
Bymers is like many of the residents in the building. McKinley Terrace is a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) complex, which means it’s low-income, government subsidized housing. Everyone who lives at McKinley Terrace must be at least 62-year-old and disabled.
Bymers said he can’t manage the building’s stairs.
“We need help to get that elevator fixed so I can go out, so Charolet upstairs can go out, and anybody else that is handicapped lie us can get out into the sunshine,” Bymers said.
Nicholson lives on the building’s third floor. She walks down the building’s stairs backwards, a trip that takes her 30 minutes. She only makes the walk when absolutely necessary, she said.
“I was having anxiety attacks,” Nicholson said. “I can’t close my door. I feel like I’m in prison.”
On Thursday, concerned citizen Robert Cleaveland said, “The owner needs to be held accountable according to the Washington State Tenant Landlord Act. And as far as I’m concerned, a 93-year-old who’s lived on the third floor of this building for 20 years should not have to be getting family members to help him down stairs. This is unacceptable as to how we live and treat people in this community.”
HUD officials declined to comment on camera, but said their time was better spent fixing the problem.
The buildings are supposed to be inspected every year.