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Problems living in an apartment owned by a community mental health agency

Posted Jul 21 2011 12:00am
WARNING:  If you don't want to hear complaints about a mental health agency, then read no further. I  make no apology for what I am writing here.You do not have to read it if you do not want to. Thank you.

I have some things to vent about. The community mental health agency that owns my apartment building owns MANY apartment buildings specifically for people who live with mental illnesses in this county. They are the only game in town. The other agencies in this county offer no housing. So if you need a place to go, and you have a low income and a mental illness, you are likely to end up in one of their apartments.

A few complaints
1. The construction that started about a year ago is almost finally done. In that year I was NEVER told WHEN it MIGHT ever be DONE. I was told without more than two-weeks notice when I had to move to one of the renovated apartments on the other side of the building, or move out altogether. The stress that this event caused me was written about in several other posts three-four months ago. Two of my neighbors moved out, leaving me and one tenant here. This tenant was finally told she didn't have to move, since she hadn't packed much and wasn't prepared to move and they wanted to get the construction done. This mental health agency pays no attention to the fact that this woman has barely left her apartment in the five years I have lived here, except to visit her mother once or twice a week. I visit her regularly because she is desperate for human contact but is somewhat agoraphobic and highly anxious. She needs help. She is not getting the help she needs from this agency or from the agency she goes to g for her  treatment.

2. After I had to complain to multiple people get help moving from one apartment to the other IN THE SAME TWO-BUILDING COMPLEX, fifty feet apart from each other if that, because I was being forced to move into one of the renovated apartment, I finally got some help with moving the large things from my apartment. But when it comes time to get ANYTHING fixed, you have to call the maintenance manager 15 times before you get anything done here. If it ever gets done at all.

3. We were never told by the agency that they were going to be tenting the building to kill (ostensibly) termites. That's right, we were never told. I found out because I was talking to the contractor who is in charge of the construction being done, that's been going on for a year, and I asked him when it would be done, to which he said, "You know, you're moving out soon, right?" No, I didn't know this. "Yes, you're moving out for at least three days, maybe more while we tent the building. In two weeks." I called the agency that owns the building. No one returned my calls. The person I called was as high up at the agency as I could go. I called again. No return call. Finally, I reached him, "Oh, I'm glad you called," he said. "Yes we are tenting the building next week. You have two options: find a friend you can live with for a few days or move into one of our apartments in the other building (the one I used to live in which is next to the one I now live in)." Well, that was really no option since I have two cats and I'm not moving into my friend's one-bedroom apartment for four days when she has two cats herself. I wasn't going to be able to move them to my mother's either. So I had to move to the other apartment where there was a hard, little twin bed, no phone, no TV, and no cable (which I have at home) and stay there for one night. The other nights, I went to my mom's so I wouldn't go stir crazy. My neighbor, Mary, was stuck in that vacant apartment of hers for eight days while they put new windows into her regular apartment (she was told they had to do this since she hadn't wanted to move out but they still needed to put in new windows). She has no cell phone. She has bad arthritis and this, along with agoraphobia, keeps her from walking to the bus often. I take her out sometimes, so I took her  out for hours last Saturday to the recovery center at the community  mental health center where we get treatment and two a couple of other places. She was thrilled. It was the second time in her life that she had been to a Subway sandwich shop. I couldn't keep her company all weekend because I had things to do, and during the week I work. Once I moved back into my apartment (but she was still stuck in the vacant one) I asked her over to watch TV. She was very bored at "home" in that spare apartment. She is too timid to actually ask when she can move home, so she waited, and waited for them to come and TELL her that she could move home, which they finally did today, even though they were done doing the windows yesterday.  Tonight, I found that at 10 PM she was still moving stuff, and she had fallen over some wood that shouldn't be laying out where people can trip on it, but has been there for weeks, if not months, and she needed help getting up. Luckily she wasn't seriously hurt, but she could've broken bones. I found her lying on the ground after I looked outside to see what the clanging noise was from the glass jars she had dropped. Nobody else lives here. If I hadn't heard that noise, she might have been lying there, unable to get up, for some time.

4. I called the maintenance manager (who never returns calls) YESTERDAY to tell him the lights outside needed to be replaced. One of the reasons Mary tripped over the wood that shouldn't be on the ground in a walking area is because the lights are out, which is also NOT SAFE in my neighborhood. Another reason she fell was that she was trying to move all of the many, many, many belongings she had painstakingly carted to the other apartment back to her home apartment, before tomorrow morning, since they said today that they are tenting that other building for termites tomorrow, so I spent 45 minutes helping move the rest of her stuff with her, which was difficult, because she has arthritis and I have Fibromyalgia, and we were both hot, exhausted, and in pain. Did the agency that owns this building offer to help her with any of this? Of course not!

5. There was a recent MURDER in one of the buildings that this agency owns of a person with a mental illness who lived there. He was killed in his apartment.  This is not too comforting. The police still do not know who killed him but they think it was someone he knew, from what I am told, and people who live in his building have been interviewed.

6. The apartment building I live in is being turned into a place for veterans, and I have heard it is for homeless veterans. If the past is any judge of the future, this will not be a good situation. In the past, this building was being used to house the "jail rehabilitation program", which sounds great in theory, and is not so great when you're living in it and you've never been to jail. That led to many police visits, drug use and prostitution, going on here. That program was taken out, and then apartments were left vacant for years. Now they are moving in the veterans, and I am HOPING that is not going to be another version of the past, which was a really unsafe atmosphere, especially if two single women are living in it.

7. When they tented the building, which they never told us they were doing until I called three times, they also never gave us instructions on what to do to prepare for the tenting. Only because I have access to computers, know how to use the internet, and thought to look it up, did Mary and myself find out that you have to remove ALL OF YOUR FOOD, including the stuff in the fridge and the freezer, to avoid getting POISONED TO DEATH. You are also supposed to remove your bedding, and of course, your pets and everything pertaining to your pets. If I hadn't TOLD MARY THIS, she might be dead from being poisoned to death. No written instructions were given to us. No telephone instructions were given to us.

8. Yesterday, when I went out to my car I found that they were painting the building next door, where I had parked my car because they kept waking me up in the morning to tell me to move my car so they could paint this building. Well, I removed the two giant tarps they put over my car, to find that paint spots were all over the hood. Do you think they are going to pay for a paint job or replace my vehicle? NEVER! No way that would ever happen. I have dealt with these people since 2006, and I know how they operate. They wouldn't give a damn about the paint on my car if I did bother to call them about it. Since I have an old car with other minor body issues, I'm not going to sue them, but some people would.

Thank you for allowing me to vent here. If you read this far, I just want to say that it really bothers me that the only affordable housing  I can find, which is also the only housing available specifically for people with mental illnesses in this area, is a place that has so many problems. I now wish that I had moved out of here when I had the chance three and a half months ago. But now that I have put MUCH work into moving in, unpacking, and decorating, not to mention the STRESS of finding a new place to live, packing, unpacking, and redecorating, there is no way I am going to move again right now. I am just hoping that the toxic poisons I and my two cats, and Mary and her cat have all been subjected to from this tenting, and the tenting that is going on next door tomorrow, does not lead to cancer or other illness, for which, of course, we would never be compensated. THEY DIDN'T EVEN TELL ME TO OPEN MY WINDOWS AFTERWARDS!! I had to go home, smell the fumes, open all the windows, turn the air and the fan on, and leave for another 24 hours, after it was deemed "safe" for occupancy by somebody who signed the sign on my door.

Why is it that so many community mental health agencies do such  crappy jobs at helping people they are supposed to be helping??? Of course, they know none of us have the money to sue them for anything that goes on here, and they push us around because they can.

Mary was told by the agency she goes to for treatment that she didn't need any more assistance because they needed more room for other people to enter their day treatment program that she had been going to regularly for eight years. So she stopped leaving her home. For years. She now won't leave unless her mother, who is 83 years old, picks her up to go to church. Or, if there is occasion for someone like me to offer her a place to go for a while. Otherwise, she is home bound, alone, and miserable. This is just criminal. That agency should never have told her she "graduated", or sent her off to suffer alone. It's wrong, and I'm sick of this crap.
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