Residents at 221 S. High St. have been without heat since last Tuesday, but after our report this morning, they should be warm again soon. But how soon? (See related story)
Rich Hoffman is the facilities manager for Bowen Center and told StaceyPageOnline.com this afternoon that their maintenance workers became aware “at the end of last week” that the steam boiler had a failed pump and cracked plates rendering it inoperable.
As an act of good faith, Bowen Center provided the residents with space heaters as a quick fix, says Hoffman. “We’ve spent the last couple of days trying to find replacement parts (for the boiler) and I’m told they are on a semi headed our way.”
Hoffman assures that the minute the parts arrive, maintenance will work throughout the day or throughout the night to get the heat back on. “I promise you we are trying very hard to bring (the dwelling) to a liveable standard,” he says.
Our story sparked a lot of interest in the community as to why the residents in the 7-unit multi-family dwelling have been allowed to live there without adequate heating. Bob Weaver of the Kosciusko County Health Department was especially troubled by the report and says, “Warsaw has a rental ordinance that must be followed … space heaters are not an acceptable way to heat long term.”
Additionally, Weaver says, per the ordinance, rental dwellings must be heated to a minimum of about 66 degrees. When Weaver learned of the heating problem at 221 S. High St., he and another inspector from the health department agreed to go inspect the building. Weaver adds, “We will enforce the rental ordinance meaning we could condemn the building or give (Bowen Center) X amount of time to fix it.”
Weaver says he will provide his findings to StaceyPageOnline.com at the completion of an inspection. He did offer, however, that if he finds the conditions substandard per the city rental ordinance, “Those residents won’t be allowed to stay there tonight.” He says those tenants could have recourse against Bowen Center for financing temporary housing.
StaceyPageOnline.com was also contacted by citizens asking how they could help the tenants by either providing more space heaters and, in some cases, even offering to find accommodations for them until the problem is resolved.
We were made aware of the problem by Janie Rager who has a family friend who resides in the building. At 70 years old, “Jim” is just not able to tolerate the cold and has been staying with Rager’s parents, Lester and Rhoda Wright of North Webster, since last Thursday.
Hoffman notes he does not believe the tenants have been without heat for over a week, but says Bowen Center staff checked in on the renters yesterday and did hand out a few more space heaters. “My goal is to get them heat as soon as possible and get through the winter. We’ll do a reassessment in the spring and look at our options for a forced air system, hot water system. We’ve invested a lot of money into the building already and we’ll be looking to put in a lot more to make improvements.”
Hoffman also says it is not Bowen Center’s intent to move residents of the building out, but that there could be a mix of Bowen Center clients moved in to vacant units. “We don’t want to move people out,” he assures.
As for the heating problem, Hoffman says maintenance is expected to begin work repairing the system tomorrow, but no later than Friday. However, tenant Hailey Charles responded to our report on our Facebook page and said Hoffman stopped by her apartment late Wednesday afternoon and told her they are hoping that Monday will be the soonest the heat would be repaired.