I-Team Update: Regency Square Elevator Still Broken; Fair Housing Center Investigating
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Six months have come and gone and the elevator in Wendy Barton's building at Regency Square Apartments is still broken.
Now, the landlord is trying to get an exemption from the state so he doesn't have to fix this broken elevator. The Newschannel3 I-Team is also learning that not fixing the elevator may be a form of discrimination. Either way, Wendy Barton is fed up.
At 70 years old and with Multiple Sclerosis and living on the third floor, Wendy Barton needs her elevator.
"My balance is not good, I have to hold onto the railing, I have to lean against the wall," says Barton who has lived at Regency Square Apartments for eight years.
Wendy has been walking gingerly around her building for the past six months since the elevator broke down.
Since the Newschannel3 I-team first reported Wendy's dilemma two months ago, she says four of her neighbors have moved out--including Sandy, whom Newschannel3 also interviewed.
"We've had a real emotional rollercoaster, and I felt very helpless and it's made me cry," said Rhoades back in April.
Despite tenants leaving and fines from the city, the elevator is still broken.
Landlord Dave Dahger is now petitioning the state for a waiver to take the take the elevator out of service.
"I feel I've been betrayed," says Barton. "I don't want to hear this, we're working on it---they've had six months to work on it."
Working on it or not, Kris Miller with the Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan says this may be a violation of fair housing rules.
"There is potential grounds to look into this further through the fair housing lens," says Miller.
Miller also says what Wendy is asking for is not out of the ordinary.
"It's not special treatment, it's equal treatment. With the elevator, if someone needs that accommodation and it's within the housing provider's ability, then they should make that accommodation," says Miller.
According to the National Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to making housing unavailable because of race, color, religion, sex or handicap.
"For people who have disabilities who already living in a place, they can request the housing provider provide them with accommodations or modifications to give them full use and enjoyment of a property," says Miller.
It's a request Wendy says she's made over and over again; an accommodation that's vital to her longevity.
"They've had six months to work on this and this should've been fixed a long time ago. I don't know what's holding them up," says Barton.
The I-Team did reach out to the landlord of Regency Square who did not have a comment for our story. However, the parent company--Trident Realty---does have a hearing scheduled for later this month in Lansing to get a waiver to not fix the elevator.