by Robert Ewing
Since The John Stewart Co. took over management, residents of Alabama Manor in San Diego are constantly finding notices on their doors and are afraid to leave because of how often their apartments are entered while they’re away. The anxiety has led to deaths, suicide attempts and panic attacks.
Alabama Manor in San Diego is a 67-unit apartment complex for senior and disabled people. Residents at the time of the sale of the building to Community Housing Works (CHW) were either 55 or older or legally disabled. These disabilities include physical "handicaps" and psychiatric illnesses. A significant number of individuals are dependent on wheelchairs or motorized scooters.
The John Stewart Co., real estate property agent for CHW, started informing the tenants of Alabama Manor that it would be handling all property-related work on the complex. Louise Fowler, the resident services coordinator for CHW, informed the tenants personally, by visiting each apartment, that the first meeting for tenants would be held on Thursday, March 8, 2007.
Since that meeting, our latest tally is six resident deaths, at least 40 calls to 911, at least five suicide attempts that we know about, and numerous hospital visits for various types of injuries, panic and anxiety attacks and other medical complaints.
Thus, the remodeling and renovation process started for tenants on March 8, 2007. Alabama Manor had been sold to CHW and the culling process began. Alabama Manor is a "senior/disabled" complex.
Many residents are not only elderly, but they have physical disabilities and also suffer from psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia, manic depression - bipolar 1 and 2 - schizo-affective disorder and major clinical depression. Depression inhabits Alabama Manor on a permanent basis and is insidious, like smoke from a fire, reaching every nook and cranny, affecting the health of every resident.
Tenants inform me that it seems like every day we either hear a knock on the door or come home to yet another notice of impending access and entry to individual apartments on a continuing and frequent basis. Someone, for some reason, may want to come into your apartment on a special day and time. One tenant told me that she opens the door even during the evenings just to inspect whether a notice has been placed on her door.
At this point, no one presently at Alabama Manor wants anybody in his or her "unit" unless the tenant is present. One tenant was told by a treating psychiatrist that it was "okay to say ‘apartment' instead of ‘unit.'"
Because of theft and gross damage to personal property, trust is a vanishing commodity at Alabama Manor. The continual stream of "managers" - at least eight we can count - has been constant since the start of the so-called rehabilitation process, with neither CHW nor John Stewart receptive to complaints.
Many times, tenants have received notice of impending action and waited, sometimes all day, and no one has come by. Frequently, tenants have canceled or rescheduled doctor and therapy appointments. Sometimes it is difficult or impossible for the disabled to even make a telephone call.
Many times tenants have been alerted to expect an inspection on a certain date, and no one has showed up. We are now informed by the acting manager that "inspections will be performed every three months because it's a HUD requirement." The tenants at Alabama Manor literally have had their lives put on hold. Two or three days later, "maintenance" may show up and enter the apartment without the tenant being present.
Where are the keys to the outer screen doors in the single section of the complex?
Where are the forms for our "Requests for Accommodations for the Disabled"?
Where are the "No Parking" signs? Why is there only one disabled parking space when there is more than one disabled person living here?
Where are the remote devices to activate the front door lock? Why haven't these devices been distributed to every tenant on a timely basis?
Let this stop! Desist! Cease! We at Alabama Manor have "lost" the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment at our rental units. We are left to ask, "What is quiet enjoyment?" And where are our leases? And why were we asked to sign them without dating them?
Readers are encouraged and invited to contact Bobby Ewing with any further information relative to experience with The John Stewart Company or Community Housing Works. Mr. Ewing may be reached during normal business hours at (619) 255-4452 or by e-mail at MagicianBadBoyBobby@yahoo.com.