Housing Authority hears concerns from Holland Towers residents – Meadville Tribune

Failure to keep facilities clean, disrespect from staff members, bullying from fellow tenants and all this on top of ongoing concerns about bedbugs.

Life at Holland Towers is full of concerns, according to one resident, and expressing those concerns brings additional stress.

Please do not retaliate against me for speaking up, resident Darlah Egger told Meadville Housing Authority board members during their monthly meeting Wednesday. Im very upset. Just because we are low income doesnt mean we have to live filthy.

Egger also said she had experienced bullying and been treated rudely by staff members. To support her claims that the facilitys common areas werent being cleaned as frequently as staff members claimed, she distributed a stack of photos to board members. As she did so, President Richard Zinn said the board was not prepared to go into the issues raised by Egger at the meeting, but also acknowledged the seriousness of her concerns.

Certainly, we would agree that you shouldnt be living in a facility that isnt cleaned properly, Zinn said.

Board member James Rozakis addressed another issue raised by Egger.

I think we could also affirm that nobodys going to be evicted for speaking out and identifying problems, Rozakis said.

About 11 residents of Holland Towers, the 132-unit public housing complex located at 1120 Market St., attended the meeting. Jackie Commins, who has served as president of the buildings Resident Council, also addressed board members with concerns similar to Eggers. Commins, too, had been threatened with eviction by a staff member, she said, and she was comforted by the reassurance from the board that eviction would not be used to retaliate against residents who offered criticism.

After the meeting, Zinn said the board would have to check into Eggers concerns.

Wednesday was not the first time such concerns have been raised at Housing Authority meetings. At least since a group of residents staged a picket protest in front of the building in October over bedbug infestations and staff-tenant relations, tenants have consistently attended meetings and have often raised concerns.

Zinn and three other board members who spoke together to The Meadville Tribune acknowledged that the relationship between some tenants and staff members had turned somewhat adversarial. The boards fifth member, Sonya Logan, was absent from the meeting, as was Executive Director Vanessa Rockovich.

It seems like quite a bit of that recently, board member Tom Youngblood said of the relationship.

If, truly, our cleaning is lacking, board member Marcia Yohe said, we need to look at it.

This is their home, Zinn added, and they deserve to have a home as safe and sanitary as we can possibly provide it.

Despite that commitment, residents at Holland Towers and William Gill Commons, an authority apartment complex on Walker Drive, continue to experience problems with bedbugs and roaches. On Wednesday, Assistant Maintenance Inspector Kyle Lynch reported that 15 units were being treated for active infestations while the same was true for 10 units at Gill Commons. The figures are down substantially from a recent high in November of 39 Holland Towers units and 41 Gill units, but the number of units being treated has remained fairly steady for several months as exterminators seem unable to eliminate the cases entirely.

On the positive side, an extensive multimillion-dollar renovation project is expected to start later this year at Holland Towers, board members noted. The project likely will extend over multiple years, but will incorporate numerous improvements, from replacing plumbing that frequently causes flooding now to new flooring throughout the seven-story apartment building.

Part of the motivation, according to Zinn, is to keep up with the competition. With several recently completed senior-focused housing projects in the area, he said, We really need to upgrade this facility to be competitive.

Even the planned improvements, however, are likely to have some negative impacts on residents, board members noted. To renovate seven rooms at a time, seven apartments will have to be vacated and residents will have to move into empty units elsewhere in the building.

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Housing Authority hears concerns from Holland Towers residents - Meadville Tribune

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