ELKHART — This week, some residents at Stratford Commons Apartments in Elkhart are struggling through the humidity with no air conditioning. Air conditioning at the building is often shut down for repairs during the summer, according to residents, all of whom are senior citizens.
“We’ve heard complaints from between 20 and 30 people this week,” said Tammy Friesen, executive director of Council on Aging of Elkhart County on Wednesday, July 10.
Friesen continued, “We are sitting at 90 percent humidity and these people (at Stratford Commons) have no moving air. If that building is full, that’s 160 people, all elderly, who are without any cooling whatsoever.”
Shirley Gallay, 74, has lived at Stratford Commons for seven years. She was sitting outside her first floor apartment Wednesday with her dog Baby. Gallay pointed out the two vans advertising heating and cooling repairs in the parking lot nearby.
“They are working on (the air conditioner) again — they never work on it until summer it seems like,” Gallay said. “This time (building management) told us it would be down all week.”
Gallay said that the air conditioning has been down multiple times in the years she has lived in the apartment complex. She gets by with five fans set up all over her living area.
“I didn’t think I would need fans when I moved here because (the building) has air conditioning,” Gallay said. “But I had to go out and buy fans.”
Gallay patted Baby, who was hanging out next to her on her chair.
“It’s hard on Baby too — she sits in front of the fan but she can’t stay cool,” Gallay said.
Gallay said part of the first floor and the second floor of the apartment building is without air. The third floor has window air conditioners in each unit.
Another resident, Betty Bucci, 59, said the air conditioning system in the building should be replaced because of the constant need for repairs.
“I have asthma,” Bucci said Wednesday afternoon. “My son brought me a portable air conditioner. If it wasn’t for that I would be in the hospital, or dead, whichever came first.”
She added that problems with the air conditioning have been an ongoing issue for residents and the situation is getting worse.
She won’t consider moving, however, because she gets a good deal on rent.
Bucci said residents of the building are frustrated with the problems, but are afraid to question the situation because they don’t have another housing option.
An employee at Stratford Commons Wednesday would not comment on the situation, adding that employees have been told by the corporate office not to comment on anything having to do with the apartment building.
Stratford Commons is managed by APT Management Inc., a property management company located in Woburn, Mass. A call to the APT office was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.
Friesen said she has tried to contact APT Management on several occasions about the condition of the apartment building, and she hasn’t received any response.
“We don’t have enough housing in this county for seniors as it is, and the housing we do have is atrocious,” Friesen said.
Friesen is still seeking donations of box fans to hand out to seniors in the community this summer. Several fans have been donated, but all have been distributed and Friesen said there is still a need. Fans can be dropped off at the Council on Aging office located on East Jackson Boulevard. Seniors who need a fan can call the Council on Aging at 574-295-1820.