BANGOR, Maine — Theresa Fairbrother likes her apartment’s new kitchen cabinets and bathroom, but she wasn’t too happy with the process Bangor Housing Authority used to install them.
“The quality of work is fine. I never had a complaint about them updating the rooms,” said Fairbrother, who lives off Union Street at Autumn Park West, one of seven subsidized Bangor Housing Authority developments in Bangor. “The main reason I want to speak up is I felt I had no rights and got booted out of my place.”
Fairbrother notified the Bangor Daily News about her complaints through the BDN website’s “See It. Fix It.” service.
Tenants at the complex, which includes four buildings and 50 one-bedroom apartments, have been required by the housing authority to leave their apartments from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every weekday when renovation work is in progress in their apartments.
The work, which has taken five days for kitchens and five days for bathrooms, includes installation of new kitchen cabinetry, countertops, sinks, tile flooring, bathtubs, safety rails and fresh coats of paint. It started in February and should continue through late April or early May.
Mike Myatt, the housing authority’s executive director, said tenants were required to leave while work was being done for safety reasons.
Another resident who didn’t want to be identified said he spent the weekdays his apartment was being renovated at the Autumn West community center, which features a bathroom with a toilet and sink, an entertainment area, a refrigerator and a microwave, but no shower.
“It’s a nice place, but it’s just not a place where you want to hang out all day long,” said the resident.
“We definitely want to apologize for the inconvenience of having to ask someone to leave for the day, but there is a lot of work being done in a relatively small space,” said Myatt.
Myatt said the housing authority purposely renovated the kitchens and bathrooms separately so as not to force residents to relocate for an entire week or more.
“That would’ve been a huge disruption for those folks,” he said.
Fairbrother and one of her neighbors said it still was exactly that.
“I didn’t get to use my Internet and cable for the better part of a week, but I’m paying for it,” said Fairbrother. “What really got me was when I saw the holes near the floor and in the bathroom ceiling. My upstairs neighbor could look right down through to my bathtub.”
Fairbrother said the two rectangular openings in her bathroom wall and ceiling were left uncovered for two days and one night.
“I’ve been having panic attacks and anxiety attack through the roof since this happened,” said Fairbrother, who is 50 and has disabilities. “I know it sounds a little paranoid, but I’m a woman living alone and it scared me.”
Myatt said those openings never should have been left uncovered and that it was an oversight.
“I would say that’s exactly what it was,” he said. “I did talk to one of the foremen over there and they corrected it after a couple days.
“We treat all of our residents with the utmost respect and if they have a problem in that regard, we want to hear about it.”
Like the other residents of Autumn West, which offers lowered rent for elderly and disabled residents, Fairbrother pays a third of her income for rent.
“We account for 741 separate apartments, making us Bangor’s biggest landlord,” said Myatt. “We also administer Bangor’s Section 8 voucher program.”