State lawmaker considers legislation to reduce elevator outages, residents fed up
State Sen. Herron Gaston was at Davey Condominiums on Boston Avenue in Bridgeport on Tuesday to hear from residents fed up with elevator outages.
"Enough is enough in the City of Bridgeport,” said Gaston.
Helen Hill, 80, of Bridgeport, lives on the top floor of Davey Condominiums. She said the entire community has been pushing to get the building's only elevator fixed, which has been broken for a year.
Hill and her neighbor Lorraine Howard, who's disabled, said residents feel like prisoners in their own apartments.
"Been going through a lot and it seems like we have been forgotten here…no one cares,” said Hill.
Gaston said he’s cared about this issue ever since a resident died several years ago as a result of an outage at Davey. He said he is constantly hearing about complaints from residents.
It’s led him to consider a new state law to help combat it. His proposed bill would increase state elevator inspections from once every 18 months to once every six months. It would also require owners to report outages to the state immediately and provide regular updates on repair efforts. It would additionally have the state seek partnerships with local municipalities to monitor those outages and repairs.
Gaston said he's seeking new penalties for owners who fail to cooperate. Sen. Richard Blumenthal has pledged to partner with Gaston on the federal level.
"I want to work with him to make sure we increase the penalties for this violation," said Blumenthal.
The president of Davey Condominiums said they have approved a plan to repair the elevator and already have a contract with Champion Elevators to finish the job by this summer.
Hill said even in the best case scenario, she and her neighbors will have to continue using the stairs for months. Gaston wants to work as quickly as possible to help residents in the same position as Hill across the state.
"We're going to do something about this once and for all," said Gaston.
Blumenthal said broken elevators can put owners in direct violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and may be grounds for suspending Section 8 payments.