Broken elevator forces elderly to take the stairs

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Elderly residents at one Albuquerque apartment complex are fed up after a broken elevator has either confined them to their apartments or forced them to struggle up and down several flights of stairs.

“I usually have to take my time just going up the steps,” said 78-year-old Charles Johnson.

He said he loves his home at Embudo Towers on Constitution near Wyoming, but he wants it to be safe.

“I’ve almost fallen about three times going up those steps, miss-stepped or whatever,” Johnson said. “Luckily, I caught myself.”

He has had to walk up and down three flights of stairs to get to his apartment for the past week.

“I’m just not a young man anymore,” he said, trying to catch his breath after walking upstairs.

His neighbors aren’t very young either.

Some asked to remain anonymous because it is public housing, which is managed by the Albuquerque Housing Authority.

“I can make it down but going back up is hard because I got heart problems real bad,” one resident said. “I’m going for a heart transplant, so that’s how bad my heart is.”

A notice on the elevator is dated Friday, Oct. 30, exactly a week ago. It stated that “there is a technical problem” and that the “elevators will be out of service until further notice.”

“People are absolutely trapped upstairs,” said Lisa Cahill, a friend of several Embudo Towers residents.

She said she called just about every phone number she could think of to find out what was taking so long.

“People either blow me off or tell me, ‘I don’t know,’ or give me another number to call, which turns out to be somebody who won’t answer their phone,” Cahill said.

Albuquerque Housing Authority Executive Director Linda Bridge told KRQE News 13 that no one was “trapped” in the apartment complex because anyone who couldn’t physically get up and down the stairs was staying with family, paying only a prorated rent.

Bridge said someone went door to door to check on residents when the elevator stopped working on Friday night.

“This absolutely is a priority and our actions speak to that,” Bridge said.

She said crews are waiting on a new motor to fix the elevator, but it is taking more time than they initially thought to get it.

Crews originally said it could take up to 10 days to fix.

Bridge, however, told KRQE News 13 that the elevator should be up and running by at least Monday or Tuesday.

KRQE News 13 crews did not see anyone getting help walking or carrying their groceries upstairs, but Bridge said there is staff on site to do that for a few hours during the afternoon.

Meanwhile, Johnson and his neighbors will still struggle with the stairs.

“It is rough on us, you know. It’s rough on everybody,” Johnson said.

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