The owner and operator of a publicly subsidized residential high-rise in Chinatown has been charged with more than a dozen misdemeanors and accused of leaving elderly tenants “trapped” by broken elevators.
The charges were announced on Thursday by L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer.
“It’s outrageous that vulnerable seniors living in a 16-story high-rise have endured multiple days without safe and working elevators,” Feuer said in a release. “Nobody — especially older adults — should be trapped as we allege has happened here.”
Cathay Manor is a 16-story, 270-unit building located at 600 N. Broadway in Chinatown that’s home to low-income seniors, many of whom are immigrants. Feuer’s office filed charges against C.C.O.A. Housing Corporation, the company that owns and manages the building, and Gong (Donald) Toy, C.C.O.A.’s president and CEO.
After receiving an anonymous complaint, a city inspector first visited the building on Sept. 1, and discovered that both of Cathay Manor’s elevators were out. The inspector issued a repair order, and C.C.O.A. got one elevator for a spell before it went out again, according to the complaint. Subsequent inspections this month found both elevators still out, prompting the City Attorney to file charges. The elevators have also allegedly not been tested for fire safety compliance.
The building’s problems actually run much deeper, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the Times, more than 30 complaints have been filed with the city housing department this year for issues that range from unsanitary conditions to managers being out of reach for tenants. The broken elevators also appear to have been a long-running problem: In August, some residents staged a protest over the elevators and broken laundry facilities.
“The management don’t treat the resident as a human being,” Chester Chong, chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, told the newspaper. “They don’t care. They only ask, ‘Where is the money?’”
Toy responded that he was aware of the issues but that they were often complicated to fix. The elevator repairs had been delayed because of missing parts, he added.
[LAT] —Trevor Bach