Construction Creates Issues for Disabled Residents

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An apartment building for people with disabilities and the elderly is going through some major renovations. Even though some residents are glad for the upgrades, they say the construction is more than an inconvenience. It's trapping them in their apartments.

The building owner tells FOX 4 that the $5.5 million renovation started when he bought the building in August, 2011. Some residents are upset because the construction has shut down one elevator and limited their access to the other one.

There is a sign the states the elevator is working but it's for contractor use.

Karen Banks and her friend Darrell Bennett received a flier explaining they could use the elevator during the day from 10-10:30, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. They say it's an inconvenience for them but it's more than that for other residents.

"I'm worried about people on their walkers or in wheelchairs," Banks said. "They can't leave their apartment after those times and that's just crazy because it's like their trapped."

Banks has breathing problems and wouldn't be able to walk up to her eighth floor apartment.

"Because if I did have an asthma attack I would have to sit until someone came on the stairway to come and get me," she said. "What if I can't talk?"

The building owner Craig Young says they wanted to do all of the renovations without displacing residents and they're trying to do it with as little inconvenience as possible. They fixed one of elevators in the fall and had planned on doing the other one this summer, but they couldn't wait any longer.

"It just kept breaking down," Bennett said.

Young says the new elevator will be in by the end of May. Until then, he says his contractors need to use the elevator to bring equipment and materials up and down to make the renovation go quickly.

"I just feel like they can work around us even if we're using the elevator," Banks said.

Bennett is also concerned that construction is overflowing into the stairwells. He's not sure what will happen if a fire breaks out.

The building manager says he's held several meeting with residents about this and he's willing to change the access times if the current times don't work for people. He also says if there's ever any type of emergency, residents can call and they will be able to use the elevator.

FOX 4 talked to HUD and they feel like the building isn't  breaking any violations.

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