Broken lift leaves some elderly flats in Kent stranded

Michael Thomas, who uses a wheelchair, says the lift at SHAG Titus Village has been out of order for 11 days. Residents who cannot use the stairs say they feel stuck.

KENT, Wash. – at SHAG Titus Village in Kent, Michal Thomas says Wednesday marked the 11th day the lift in apartments for the elderly was broken.

“It’s hard for me to get around, so I have to use a wheelchair,” Thomas said.

A concerned son-in-law who lives out of state alerted KING 5 with an email, writing, “My father-in-law’s safety and the safety of other tenants are completely ignored.”

On Wednesday, Thomas said that was unacceptable.

“It’s just been a total mess,” he said.

James Brown is another resident who lives on an upper floor. He uses a cane to help him walk.

“I can’t afford to be stuck on the second floor,” Brown said.

Brown tried to use the stairs. He says he already fell once when elevator was broken.

Thomas says he had to go to a doctor’s appointment and called the fire department for help.

“When the fire department arrived, they picked me up at 7 a.m. yesterday. I got back here at 1 p.m. and there were already four people in front of me climbing the stairs,” Thomas said.

Pat Pawlak, division chief of the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, said firefighters have responded to seniors’ apartments 25 times since Feb. 1. Pawlak said that at this time, it’s unclear how many of those responses were elevator-related.

“There are more responses than we usually see,” Pawlak said Wednesday.

Residents called 911 for help going up and down the stairs in Titus Village, Pawlak said. He added that this creates a safety issue because if firefighters help with the broken lift and an emergency occurs in the area, more distant fire units may need to be called in to help. This could slow response times.

Pawlak said the City of Kent has been made aware of the firefighters’ concerns.

“We’re waiting for the elevator to be fixed, but at the same time, you’re not waiting for that rent to be paid,” Brown said, referring to apartment management.

SHAG operates apartments for the elderly. Messages from KING 5 asking for answers on when the elevator will be repaired were not immediately returned.

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