MIAMI (CBS4) – Suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis and spinal disease, 79 year-old Kaaren Mils gets to and from her Barclay Building apartment on Miami Beach with the aid of a walker and her backside, dragging herself up and down two flights of stairs, one agonizing step at a time.
The building’s elevator doesn’t work. Hasn’t worked for at least eight months.
The federally subsidized complex on Pennsylvania Avenue has been under renovation for about a year. Replacing the ancient elevator is a part of the makeover, and to tenants it seems to be taking forever.
“This is usually where I take my break,” said Mils, lowering her bottom on to a landing from the bottom step of the first flight of stairs she has to navigate. “Sometimes I’ll sit here for 15 minutes to get my breath, because I know I don’t have enough strength to get back up.”
Her building has been under renovation for about a year, directed by the quasi-public Miami Beach Community Development Corp, using federal funds that are doled out by the city.
Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora told CBS4 News Monday he was livid to learn of the perpetually broken elevator from CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.
The Community Development Corp’s explanation for the delay?
“It takes time,” said Director Roberto Datorre. Datorre said the ancient lift, 70 years old, is having to be custom rebuilt from the ground up. The project has proved more expensive than first estimated, he said, and more money is needed.
Gongora, the commissioner, shot back saying the development agency hasn’t processed the necessary requests for the additional funding.
“The Miami Beach Community Development Corp needs to give Miami Beach the proper paperwork so we can expedite the funding,” Gongora said. “We do have the funds available to do the elevator repair.”
Datorre counters that his agency has provided the city with enough paper to paper the walls of the complex.
“Every time we send them a piece of paper, they request something additional, and we have sent additional paperwork,” Datorre said.
Miami Beach officials have been slammed by the feds for not using its housing grants in a timely manner. The Herald reported that HUD took half a million dollars back from the city earlier this year because city hall let it lie around too long unused. The city’s executive in charge of community development – and overseeing the work of the Community Development Corp – was fired.
Gongora says a new city administration is cleaning up after previously slipshod work.
Caught in the bureaucratic failures are Kaaren Mils and her suffering neighbors.
“Have a little compassion for the people that live here, because it’s not just me.” Mils said. “People should not have to live like this when there’s no reason for it.”
The Community Development agency’s Datorre promised Monday that the elevator will be up and running by the end of the month.
CBS4 News will be back to check, bright and early August 31st.