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Peninsula Glen tenants again voicing concerns
"POULSBO - Amy Gordon barbecues often. It isn't because summer has arrived and sunny days are prevalent. It's because the stove in her apartment is broken. The front of the door on the every-day appliance fell off four months ago. It's ventilation system is loosely connected with aging duct tape. Gordon said she has submitted repair work orders to managers at Peninsula Glen, a low-income housing project on Hostmark Street, but nothing has been done. Cabinets throughout the kitchen are missing drawers and thick black mold dots the area surrounding the sink. Elsewhere in her two-floor complex doors are either hanging precariously on hinges or have fallen off completely. Shades in the living room have been in a state of disrepair since Gordon and her family moved in last May. These items are just the beginning of the laundry list of problems, though. My living room heater has literally fallen out of the wall, Gordon said, showing the detached unit. Another heater that serves the entryway has exposed wiring. With three children, ages seven, five and two, she said the conditions in her apartment at the Poulsbo complex are just plain dangerous. Other tenants agree. The carpet is making me and my kids sick, said one tenant who refused to be identified, noting that although she has had the carpet professionally cleaned, but oder was still a constant problem. Now, I just cover it with another carpet. The tenant submitted a work order for new carpet a year and a half ago, but nothing has been done by the complex managers, James and Angela Hall. Neither of the Halls were allowed to respond to questions concerning the apartments from the Herald because the Peninsula Glen management company Pan Pacific Properties, Inc. of Seattle did not grant them permission. When the tenant with carpet problems was asked why she didn't want to be named, she responded, I don't want them to screw with me. Another man, according to Gordon, was so afraid of a possible eviction that he wouldn't even publicly mention his problems for fear that the managers would learn his identify. Gordon's boyfriend Bill Pantenburg claims that he has been intimidated and threatened by James Hall on several occasions. People are scared. If they stand up to the management, they end up getting a 10-day (notice to vacate) or rent increases, he said. They'll find a way to screw with you. Despite having these concerns herself, Gordon said enough was enough. WHY ROCK THE BOAT? Tenants who contacted the Herald to speak about on-going issues at Peninsula Glen believe that if they don't rock the boat now, nothing will ever be done to correct the problems. Besides, some agreed, if the complex was a boat - it'd be sinking fast. They can't do this to people any more, Gordon said. Nothing's getting fixed, it's progressively getting worse. When asked why she doesn't file complaints about the ongoing issues, Gordon claimed that the Halls are protected by Pan Pacific Properties. She also alleged that she was told by the on-site managers that complaints to PPP would only backfire. But April Lapham, property manager for Pan Pacific, said this wasn't true and pointed out that policies for grievances and maintenance are provided to tenants when they move in. The news about damages came as a surprise to Lapham last week, who said the most Peninsula Glen scored rather well during the most recent Department of Housing and Urban Development physical inspection of the site. Although Lapham has yet to see the Gordon's residence, she said Monday that much of the damage, including the broken stove piping, stove door and cabinets, were the aftermath of the tenant's misuse at the site. Management completed a full-unit inspection for budget purposes in October 2000, she added. Also, Peninsula Glen scored 86 out of 100 possible points during its last Department of Housing and Urban Development inspection, which took place in November 1999. WORK ORDERS OUT OF ORDER? Gordon and other residents at Peninsula Glen feel the work order system at the complex isn't working in their favor. Instead, some claimed the system is biased and while well-liked tenants get attention, others are stuck. I haven't been here very long, but I shouldn't have to live like this, Jennifer Moran said. Moran, a mother of two, said shortly after she moved in earlier this year the stove broke. While the stove was eventually fixed, unexplained charges were added to her monthly rent which was eventually increased as well. Moran said she felt the charges were retaliation. Work orders, a number of tenants interviewed agreed, are either ignored or discarded completely. Gordon said she had sent in seven work orders on various items and so far, a toilet and sink - both of which she said were broken when she moved in - were the only items to be repaired. Linda Dew, who has been a tenant at Peninsula Glen for 12 years, said things weren't always this way at the complex. But in the past few years, pretty much everything has gone downhill, she explained. Dew said she personally paid for new cabinets a decade ago, to date she hasn't received any response. Work orders only work if they don't end up in the garbage, said Pantenburg. Dew concurred, asking, What's the sense of a work order? We have a work order system and we adhere to that, Lapham said in defense of the management. I know we've been pretty active there. I know we're spending money. In the last six months, 47 work orders have been completed at Peninsula Glen, Lapham reported. Nonetheless, Dew has taken over the responsibilities of buying necessary items, such as a door handle which broke last week, and repairing things herself. Doing the managers' repair jobs does not set well with Dew or the other tenants who are disgruntled with the trend. Partiality, Dew said, was a major reason for her displeasure with the management. Certain people get carpets. Others don't. It's not for a lack of trying, she said, noting that she has sent numerous work orders in to improve her living conditions. The aging carpet, which Dew said dates back to the 1980s, and constant mildew make life pretty hard on her two asthmatic boys. We know that there remain(s) carpet that needs replacement, however, because of the cost we are scheduling them in over a period of time, Lapham said. Since July 2000, five carpets and two vinyl floors have been replaced at the complex at a total cost of $7,054, she added. FORMER TENANT SPEAKS OUT In early 1997, long-time tenants Jacqueline and Gary Stokes voiced similar concerns in the Herald about Peninsula Glen. Jacqueline Stokes, who moved out of the complex in mid-1997 after living there for 10 years, contacted the Herald last week to express her support for the current tenants. She and her husband left Peninsula Glen after allegedly being harassed by management for taking their problems to the press. Stokes claims she was an ideal tenant at the complex but as time passed, she too ran into conflicts with the Halls. While a tenant, Stokes said she ran into problems with the Halls getting her recertification completed. Such paperwork is required when tenants in subsidized have a change of income. However, Stokes alleged that James Hall kept putting the required paperwork off, but after she contacted the Herald the recertification was processed along with a hefty amount of back rent. My cupboards were falling off. I had toilet problems - we had to manually flush it for months. There were nails coming up on the carpet, she said, adding that management ignored her work orders. I called HUD. I called a lawyer, but every place I called I didn't get anywhere with anyone, she explained. Stokes also called the Halls, but they were allegedly, Not returning my phone calls or not in the office. They find a way to get you out of there, she added, noting that soon after she questioned the recertification problem, she received an eviction notice. IS RETALIATION A REALITY? According to Lapham, tenant fears that they will be evicted from low-income housing is not unusual. Evictions can only occur if the tenants are breaking the rules or not paying their rents, she added. I don't think that's an issue (but) we're very sensitive to that sort of thing, Lapham said. As managers we have to be very careful. However, almost immediately after discussing her concerns with the Herald, Gordon said she received a notice from management that her non-leased boyfriend would have to vacate the premises. Gordon said she felt the timing of the letter, which mirrors Stokes' problems in 1997, was retaliation from management as Pantenburg has been living in the apartment since January without any problem until now. It's apparent that these tenants haven't followed procedures, Lapham said, noting that Pantenburg should not have been living there to begin with. There are guidelines if we find some one living there who is not (registered to be) living there. Violations of the section 8 guidelines, she explained, are typically what lead to evictions. They haven't filed grievances with management, Lapham explained, adding that as of last Friday the Bremerton Housing Authority had yet to hear from any of the tenants. In fact, since taking over management of Peninsula Glen in November 1998, Pan Pacific Properties hasn't received a single grievance from any of the 74 residents at the complex. Clarence Nelson, multi-family housing manager for the BHA, confirmed this statement Monday. Nelson said his agency has not received any complaints from Peninsula Glen since it took over management oversight responsibilities in December 2000. Nelson explained that while HUD handles physical inspection of such properties the BHA addresses maintenance, security, financial management, leasing, occupancy, drug-free housing and tenant manager relations. Tenants, he added, were notified by the BHA in December that concerns could be addressed to the agency. We don't have any (complaints) from that property. All we have is a management review done in January 2001. They received a 'satisfactory' in that review, Nelson said. Peninsula Glen lacked an after hours emergency contact number, but the issue was addressed by management in February. It appears from the review to be a well-run place, he remarked. But some tenants at Peninsula Glen feel they are being victimized by the system. People are scared and I'm scared too because I have nowhere else to go - I think a year and a half of waiting is long enough, Gordon said. They think because this place is low-income we're just scummy people on welfare but we don't deserve to live in a house where people are treated like this. RESPONSE Lapham was asked to meet with the Herald at Peninsula Glen to inspect some apartments, but she said, after discussing the matter with her co-workers, she had been advised against it. Instead, a list of questions were faxed to Pan Pacific Properties for response. The answers are incorporated throughout the article. "