CHICAGO (CBS) — People pay lots of money to experience rides like the Tower of Terror, but some senior citizens in Lincoln Park said they’re often forced to ride their own version when using the elevators at a CHA building.
Gravity has a double meaning in Carmen Betance’s building in Lincoln Park, where unpredictable elevators are a serious concern.
“Someone’s going to die, because we’re going to need this elevator to transport someone, and they’re going to lose their life,” Betances said.
Elevators at the Larrabee Apartments in Lincoln Park often are out of service, according to the senior citizens who depend on subsidized rent and accessibility at the Chicago Housing Authority building.
“There are times when I have to take the stairs, and I’m 72,” said Fannie Crump.
A June 2016 citation from the city confirms an elevator was “jerking when in travel.”
“You feel like the elevators are going to fall,” Betances said. “It scares the heck out of you.”
Four more elevator inspections failed over 14 months; repeat violations labeled “dangerous & hazardous situation.”
Chicago firefighters said that usually means the elevators are not hooked up to the alarm system that makes elevators return to the ground floor in an emergency.
Mid-American Elevator is the company that services the building. They perform preventative maintenance about once a month, according to the company’s general manager. He said he wasn’t aware of a fire alarm system issue, but added it’s a job that would take about a day to resolve.
“It doesn’t shock me,” said Lilly Lerner, a housing organizer with the Jane Addams Senior Caucus.
Lerner has been trying to make sure CHA seniors report problems in their buildings so they are fixed faster.
“If they get stuck in there without their inhaler, without their medication, and they’re in there for hours, that could possibly be life-threatening,” Lerner said.
CHA officials admitted elevators in their buildings often are old and out of date, but they are adamant the equipment is safe. A spokesperson said a fire safety test and repairs are pending at the Larrabee Apartments.
The CHA also said they are in the middle of modernizing all 150 elevators across their 86 properties.