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Hollywood House Seniors After Complaints: 'We Won Some Changes'

By Benjamin Woodard | October 3, 2013 6:59am
 Seniors at the Edgewater senior home had complained for years about being mistreated by management.
Hollywood House Meeting
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EDGEWATER — Residents of the Hollywood House senior home said their wounds finally began to heal Wednesday after months of complaining that they'd been mistreated by management.

More than 100 residents, elected officials and clergy filled the seats at Edgewater Presbyterian Church as Michael Goldberg, the executive director of Heartland Housing, which manages the home, promised to address concerns.

Some seniors had said they were harassed with improper eviction notices, while others claimed they hadn't received adequate notice for unit inspections.

"We need to make some improvements — that's why I'm here," said Goldberg, who agreed to seven "commitments" drawn up by residents and the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, which advocates for senior rights.

Goldberg committed to "hiring and training staff to build a culture at Hollywood House that ensures that all staff treats ... tenants with respect and dignity." He also committed to ensure the front desk was staffed overnight.

Nanna Cross, a Hollywood House resident, said months of hard work had paid off for the seniors.

"We have won some changes in our home because of your participation and support," she said. "We can't afford to settle for anything less."

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) also congratulated the seniors.

"It's a proud day for all of us in this community," he said. "Your advocacy has led to a positive change."

Gloria Hunt, a 10-year resident of the home, said she had helped in 2008 to secure tax increment financing so that Heartland Housing could buy the senior home from the Hellenic Foundation and renovate the building.

"On two occasions, I suffered the consequences of the ineffectiveness of the Heartland building rehab," she said.

In one incident, she said, her sink overflowed onto her floor and no one came to fix it until a day later, despite her pleas for help.

"The sink did overflow onto my floor," she said. "It was a very traumatic incident."

Another time, this summer, the air conditioning broke and "it took days — not hours — to rectify the problem," she said.

Dan Wirtz, a three-year resident of the home, complained of excessive and intrusive inspections.

"I love my apartment. I love the view," he said. "I'm glad to be living there, but as we all know, there have been problems."

Barbara Cathey, the pastor of the church, closed the meeting Wednesday by praising everyone for coming together to help.

"We give thanks today," she said, "for the beginning of new and deeper and richer, more secure and more abundant, life at Hollywood House."