One of the elevators at the Gateway Plaza public housing community in downtown Greensboro is chronically out of service, says one resident who filed a complaint with the state Department of Labor earlier this week.

In the official complaint filed on Sunday, resident Karen Spigner said both elevators in the 16-floor tower on Spring Garden Street constantly malfunctions and one is out of service four to six times a month.

“During this pandemic the elevator has been out of commission at least four times providing one elevator which has absolutely no ventilation of air flow for the eight to 10 people who pack in above capacity,” she wrote. “The only response from management is that they called for service. However, the contractors never resolve the problem for senior and disabled residents to safely travel through the building.”

On Wednesday, Spigner received a response from a representative of the Elevator & Amusement Device Bureau at the Department of Labor indicating that her complaint had been referred to an inspector for review.

“Don’t forget: We have [residents who use] walkers and wheelchairs,” Spigner told Triad City Beat. “They have bags from shopping. It’s always packed. They know it’s going to be 10 or 15 minutes before the next elevator comes, so they try to squeeze on.”

Maggie Larkins, the special projects manager at the Greensboro Housing Authority provided a written statement to Triad City Beat in response to the complaint.

“If there is an issue with an elevator at any Greensboro Housing Authority property, it is promptly dispatched,” the statement said. “These elevators are serviced every month and have always passed inspection from the Department of Labor. It should be clear that at no time are both elevators ever inoperable. GHA works to keep disruptions such as this to a minimum.”

Spigner disputed the statement that at all times at least one of the elevators is operating.

“When they say at no time have both the elevators been out of service at the same time, that’s an absolute lie,” she said. Spigner, who has lived at Gateway Plaza for about five years, added that on two occasions in the past month people have gotten temporarily stuck on the elevators.

Spigner said the second elevator was repaired on Wednesday evening, adding, “I bet you by Friday it’s going to be out again.”

Asked on Thursday to comment on why the second elevator is breaking down so frequently, Larkins said she would look into and respond to TCB by Friday. Larkins also said she would look into Spigner’s concern that congestion as a result of one elevator frequently being out of service is putting residents at risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Spigner’s complaint about the elevators at Gateway Plaza resembles the situation at Crystal Towers, another public-housing high-rise that houses elderly and disabled people. One of the two elevators at Crystal Towers, which is owned and operated by the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, is frequently out of service. Citing a lack of funding to pay for needed renovations at Crystal Towers, the housing authority is seeking permission from the US Department of Housing & Urban Development to sell the property.

Spigner said the maintenance staff at Gateway Plaza tells residents that the elevators break down because people are constantly holding the doors. But it doesn’t seem right to make them wait, she said.

“There are handicapped people, and you have to hold the elevator open for them,” Spigner said.

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