Courthouse Square Troubles
As she waits for the movers, Clarkson, seventy-five, crisply recalls the day eleven years ago that she moved into the 116-unit high-rise at the corner of Huron and Fourth Avenue. At the time, the downtown senior housing complex seemed like the perfect retirement home for a self-described "urban dweller."
"I don't drive," Clarkson explains. "I needed to find a place where I could manage my life. The bank, post office, Kerrytown--you could walk to them. It was inexpensive, relatively speaking, and [the rent included] the heating and cooling. The paint was fresh. I made friends."
But problems soon emerged. Drunks wandered the halls--and some weren't intruders, but tenants. Residents with mental disorders sometimes shouted at frightened neighbors. A woman was sexually assaulted in the laundry room.
The situation improved for a while, Clarkson recalls. The police cracked down on the worst offenders, and the building's owners hired a more aggressive manager, who evicted several problem tenants. But within a couple of years, Clarkson says, the manager was replaced by someone less effective, and troubles resumed. This past January, a male tenant and his female visitor stabbed each other in his third-floor apartment. The tenant remains in the building--because, Clarkson and others believe, an advocate from the Housing Bureau for Seniors stymied attempts to evict him. (An HBS social worker says she can't comment on specific incidents.)