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Akron seniors at HUD subsidized complex fight to get air conditioning restored

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Posted at 11:29 PM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-18 07:42:46-04

Seniors living at the White Pond Villa Apartments in Akron are concerned about their health and well-being after they say management couldn't tell them when air conditioning would be restored.

Seniors claim they were told air conditioning at the 176 unit complex wasn't required under the property agreement with HUD.

Seniors contacted News 5 after reporting temperatures in some units were approaching 90 degrees, even though outside temperatures here in Northeast Ohio haven't exceeded the mid-70's.

June Hardin told News 5 she believes the lack of air conditioning and reliable elevators are a health and safety risk for seniors, especially those suffering from on-going medical conditions.

"Management told us air conditioning is a luxury, a luxury, what did you just say to me?" said Hardin.

"They couldn't tell us if, or when, the air conditioning would be repaired."

"A lot of the seniors here are afraid they’re going to be evicted if they kick up a stink."

Vance Brown has been living at the HUD-assisted complex for the past three years.

Vance pointed to the thermostat in his unit, which showed a temperature of 88 degrees at 6 PM on May 16.

Vance said if a property is being given tax dollars to assist seniors with housing, HUD needs to better hold management accountable to provide services like air conditioning and reliable elevators.

"I believe the taxpayers should get more involved, because if they only knew how their money was being spent," said Vance.

News 5 contacted HUD headquarters in Washington, and it told News 5, SHP Management Corporation, which runs the complex, is responsible for providing air conditioning and other amenities to seniors at the property.

HUD issued the following statement in response to our story:

"The safety of HUD assisted residents at the White Pond Villa senior apartments is of the utmost importance to the Department.

We are committed to insuring that residents are provided decent, safe and sanitary housing.

As a part of our specific contract with White Pond Villa, cooling is included in the utility expense subsidy and as such, the owner has been directed to repair the a/c.

With regard to the elevator concern, we are also seeking a swift resolution to ensure corrective action is promptly underway."

SHP Management Corporation also responded quickly to our story and told News 5 it will conduct wellness checks on all seniors at the complex until the air conditioning issues are resolved.

The management company also said it will set-up common areas in the complex where air conditioning will be made available.

Management also issued this memo to all residents:

"As many of you are likely aware, the cooling tower that provided air conditioning to the entire building is not operating.  Prior ownership and management did not disclose this issue to new ownership and it was only discovered on April 18, 2018.

Following discovery of the issue, SHP immediately began the process of replacing the non-operational cooling tower.

The K Company will be installing a new cooling tower to serve White Pond Villa.

Temporary cooling towers will be installed in the coming week and they will remain operational until the permanent cooling tower is operational.

Until the temporary cooling towers are installed, air conditioning units will be run in the building’s common areas.

If you have any significant concerns regarding the lack of air conditioning in the short time period prior to the installation of the temporary cooling towers, please contact the management office.

We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your cooperation. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us."