Sterling Heights great grandmother says she felt trapped in apartment

82-year-old woman says apartment management moved her, making access difficult


STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – Carolyn Gardner is a longtime resident of Lakeside Towers in Sterling Heights.

The 82-year-old great-grandmother says she loved her apartment, which was comfortable and affordable, thanks to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In June, when Lakeside Towers started planning renovations, the management company National Church Residences moved Carolyn across the street to Lakeside Village.

Apartment Access Difficult

That's when the problems began for Carolyn. While she says the new apartment was very nice, access was very difficult. Carolyn uses a scooter or her walker to get around. The new apartment has stairs inside and outside. The patio door lead to a small lawn. That meant getting in and out of the apartment was difficult.

"I feel trapped here. I can't ... I have to wait for someone to come and help me out." Carolyn Gardner told Ruth to the Rescue back on August 10th.

Her daughter, Johnna Smith showed Ruth the stairs that made it impossible for her mother to get around easily.

"Twice she's fallen while I was helping her up the stairs, and so I go to sleep at night, I lay there thinking, 'Oh my god, just get me through the next day", Johnna said.

Pleading for Help

Carolyn's daughters say they contacted management several times, over several weeks, and didn't feel they were getting the help they needed. Days after Ruth to the Rescue contact National Church Residences, the company released this statement:

"The staff at Lakeside Towers is aware of the situation with Ms. Gardner. We are very concerned about our residents, particularly when they need to be transferred to another facility during a renovation. We check in with them often to continually reassess their needs. We had hoped that Ms. Gardner would be able to negotiate the patio sliding door exit. Since that hasn't worked well for her, we are working to find a resolution that will allow her easier access out of her apartment. We have discovered Friday that a portable ramp will not be a good solution. So we are looking at other options, including extending the sidewalk to her patio door and finding a new apartment for her. We hope to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible."

Moving On

A few days later, a spokeswoman said it became apparent the best option for Carolyn was to move her to a more accessible apartment in the same complex. Carolyn now has a ground level patio daughter that allows her to get out of the apartment easily.

Carolyn had two other daughters on hand to help with her move. Daughter Sue Torres said, "We had phone call after phone call- and Ruth made a few phone calls and that was it. It worked. It's wonderful, thank you!"

The spokeswoman for National Church Residences says it was already searching for a solution before Ruth to the Rescue got involved.

We'll give Carolyn the final word. She told Ruth to the Rescue, "I think I can get out more now- you know-- not be stuck in here. having to call one of my kids saying come get me."

We hope she enjoys her new home.