Renovation nightmare: Elderly and disabled tenants say building improvements result in chaos

August 08, 2018 07:15 PM

"Watching this has been heartbreaking for me because these are like my grandparents now," said Tammy Dercole.

Dercole is a stroke survivor and eight-year resident at the Raymond Watkin Apartments in Saratoga Springs, a privately owned HUD sponsored building for the elderly and disabled. She says for the last seven months, the building has been in a constant state of chaos as it undergoes a major overhaul.

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"What I see is people being herded around like livestock. I don't like that," said Dercole.

Managed by Tesco Properties and owned by SP Investment Funds, LLC, a company based in California, Dercole and other residents say their concerns about safety, privacy and hours of construction have fallen on deaf ears. Clutter filled hallways and common areas are the new norm and entrances and exits are often blocked. Residents say work often begins as early as 6 a.m. and tenants are often required to be out of their apartments or provide work crews with unrestricted access to their apartments.

"There's been times when there's no water. The public bathrooms are filthy downstairs," said Mona Lewis.

Lewis is one of several tenants who has closely monitored the process. She says she's speaking out now for those who are afraid to.

"All of us are here for an income reason and people are afraid they might be evicted if they say something," said Lewis.

Cynthia Companion disagrees with those who complain and say they are troublemakers. She is happy with all of the work and says the inconveniences have been worth it.

"They send paper around once a week, which apartments, which floors are going to be done. They highlight it," said Companion. "They slide it right under the door, all you have to do is bend down, pick it up, read it. If you can't read it, have somebody else read it to you."

Gil Seton is listed as the building's owner. He tells NewsChannel 13 he was unaware of the tenant concerns until this week.

Seton says the $4 million project is meant to improve quality of life. Each apartment will be completely revamped as well as improvements to the hallways, common areas and grounds.

While no one seems to question the need for the repairs, it's how it is being done that has many crying foul.

"They are beautiful. Let's face it, they're lovely, but the process to get here has been horrible," said Dercole.

"It's elder abuse as far as I'm concerned. It's elder abuse in a big way," said Lewis.

As a result of NewsChannel 13's inquiry into the complaints, HUD says they are now looking into the conditions at the building. They say they are not directly involved with the renovations but did help secure funding for the improvements.

Seton says he will be investigating each complaint.


Jacquie Slater

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