The Commission on Affordable Housing and Health Facility
Needs for Seniors in the 21st Century
November 7, 2001
My name is Walter Krauss. I live in subsidized housing under a Section 236 program. Frankly, it's been a nightmare. I'm just simply shocked at what has taken place. I'd like to read just a few things in regard to this facility.
If an elderly person has a belief that they would be treated humanely and responsibly simply because of a government program, they need to be aware there is no certainty this will occur. Then if serious mistreatment of the residents of a government project takes place, the perpetrators of abuse, as I have learned, have no need to fear punishment.
The following was a recipe for the victimization of senior citizens residing at Villa Alta. The owner corporation had a president and board of directors who had no interest in what was happening at their housing facility. The Housing and Urban Development officials likewise did not devote any time or attention to what was going on.
While all the insanity was occurring at Villa Alta, HUD had been producing yearly reviews of a facility which very likely were fraudulent. The contract for the management of the complex was awarded to an incompetent and dishonest company. Then resident managers, as you'll eventually be shown, were irresponsible, dishonest, cruel and lazy.
I have descriptions here of various things they have done. They violated state laws by entering apartments without giving prior notice. They allowed certain residents to use their apartments as a shop. Actually one person was operating at a shop right next door to me. I had to put up with the noise and the bugs that he brought into the facility.
The management style for managing this facility was for the -- for the office to be closed more than it was open. More times than not, a sign would go up about 12:30, "out to lunch", and they would not report back till next day. Then they even kept a restroom locked so there wouldn't be any need to clean it. Handles were removed from the windows in the laundry room. In other words, we pretty much had a warden there.
The maintenance man, the husband of the manager, actually had a second job at the time the facility first opened. I had -- the building --
MR. SYKES: Mr. Krauss, I'm going to be very happy to sit with you. I think this is a very specific issue of one place --
MR. KRAUSS: Okay.
MR. SYKES: -- and I will listen very carefully to what you say.
Since the 14 commissioners are really focused on national policy and are seeking input that would guide us in that report that we'll do, I'd like to just suggest that you and I talk a little bit.
MR. KRAUSS: Instead of just going on and on -- I could go on for hours, but I would like to say that HUD officials had been down for a few days in August and it took them three days to collect complaints. Then I would just like -- just to show you what is going on here, I'd just like to tell you about a couple incidents that --
MS. FEINGOLD: Mr. Krauss, I just want to tell you, I did -- you gave me a copy of that. We have the copy that you gave us. We've turned it in. So you can go on, but we have a written --
MR. SYKES: Yes. Is that fair? I think -- were we to take particular testimony about a particular situation here, we would be not in a position to act on the information. We're the wrong people to get that information, but I can be a conveyor of that information with any other commissioner acting in his own behalf, not on behalf of the commission.