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Elevator issues at Oak Towers causes concern among residents

Phil Steinhaus, CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority (CHA) says improvements are coming to the Oak Towers building. The two elevators have repeatedly broken down in recent months. Residents who contacted ABC 17 say some people, including senior citizens and the disabled, are left to climb up to eight stories of stairs.

Some wheelchair-bound residents say elevator issues can keep them stuck downstairs or on their floor for hours, which interrupts appointments, workflow and general lifestyle.

“We are replacing both elevators at Oak Towers,” Steinhaus said. “Work started on the first one at the beginning of August. It should be completed by the end of this month.”

The elevator currently available to residents has broken four times since the beginning of August and twice on Monday, according to Steinhaus.

“We have elevator crews working in the building, so when it fails they’re able to just jump over,” said Steinhaus.

There is a monthly meeting called “Oak Chat,” for residents to voice concerns. The next meeting is Nov. 13.

Oak Towers is currently undergoing a complete renovation, which is being carried out one floor at a time. The eighth floor is complete, and work on the seventh floor is expected to finish by the end of the week. Each floor takes about six weeks to renovate, according to Steinhaus.

Included in the renovation is a new heating system, which will allow residents to “control the temperature in their apartment individually. Whereas they were not able to do that in the past,” says Steinhaus.

Steinhaus says enough residents were displaced for the renovation, so current residents are moved to the above level while their floor is under construction.

The entire building is expected to be finished by May 2018.

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