By John Burton
MIDDLETOWN – Some residents of the Alice V. Tomaso Plaza public housing complex say they have health and safety concerns about the building and believe the housing authority isn’t listening.
Members of the authority and its executive director say they are listening and trying to resolve tenants’ issues.
“My concerns are I want to have a safe, happy environment,” said Michele, a 79-year-old 15-year building resident who wouldn’t give her last name.
“It’s not safe to be honest with you,” noted Janet Campbell, 74, who has been living in the complex for four years.
“I feel for the frustration for the people here,” said Joseph Billy, executive director of the Middletown Housing Authority the morning after the Sept. 19 meeting when residents told commissioners about their dissatisfaction with the conditions.
Billy said the authority has been trying to resolve issues but acknowledged some measures have not been successful.
Tomaso Plaza, 2 Oakdale Drive, is a 152-unit public housing complex that opened about 35 years ago. It operates on a federal Section 8 voucher project-based subsidy, with residents paying a portion of the rent, based on family income. Federal money is used to make up the difference.
The apartments are available to those 62 or older and those approved for Social Security Disability, whatever the age.
Under the lease agreement, tenants are obliged to adhere to a fairly lengthy list of conditions, including areas where smoking is and is not permitted, pet ownership and use of illegal drugs.
While the emphasis is to get tenants to adhere to the rules, those who chronically violate them are taken to court, seeking their ouster, by the administration, Billy told the audience.
Some residents complained about alleged drug activity and bedbugs. Billy and commissioners advised them to keep the authority apprised of illegal activity and said that exterminators have been called in to address the bedbug issue since it first came to light in 2010.