LIMA — An unexpected cold snap and a boiler system running at half capacity had residents at Furl Williams Apartments chilled these past few weeks as public officials worked to satisfy tenants’ expectations.
Allen Metro Housing Authority Executive Director Anna Schnippel said the agency, which owns the apartments, had begun to hear complaints from residents a week into November, when the region was hit with below-average temperatures.
At that time, the housing authority checked into the criticism to find 70-degree temperatures throughout the building, Schnippel said.
Similar temperatures were confirmed by city code enforcement officials when they arrived at the building earlier this week.
The City of Lima requires that landlords provide tenants heating, as long as temperatures don’t fall below 65 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. Community Development Director Susan Crotty said the Allen Metro Housing Authority did not fail in those legal obligations.
But according to Angel Woods, the granddaughter of one elderly resident, temperatures were so low inside the apartments that some residents had began to rely on their ovens to heat their spaces, which is a serious fire risk.
Over the last few weeks, Woods has been placing calls to the city, adult protective services and WOCAP to check into the housing authority’s alleged mistreatment of residents. The result has been a whirlwind week for Schnippel who has been fielding calls from the different organizations checking into the accusations.
“It’s not like we’re asking for a million dollars. We’re just asking for them to stay warm,” Woods said.
Outside of the central heating system at Furl Williams, apartments in the housing complex do come equipped with space heaters installed inside each one-bedroom apartment’s bathrooms. Those heaters were supplemented earlier this week with additional electric space heaters for each resident, purchased and provided by the housing authority.
By Friday, Woods admitted apartment temperatures were sufficient — some broaching 80 degrees — but she said space heaters should have been provided earlier before she began to make calls to bring the issue into the public sphere. The space heater offered to Woods’s grandmother was refused as other heaters were already purchased to keep the space warm.
At the heart of the difficulty has been a surprisingly short time for fall temperatures. In early October, 80-degree days were the norm, and Schnippel said Furl Williams residents had complained at that time about the lack of air conditioning. In roughly a month, temperatures dropped by 40 degrees, and the script has flipped.
“Met housing has done everything we can, and we’re still working at it,” Schnippel said.
Furl Williams Apartments is one of the few rent-controlled public housing complexes in the county. The 39-unit building houses mostly low-income individuals and couples, many of them elderly.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.