ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – An Albuquerque woman says she was stranded in her own apartment several times. Despite her limited mobility, she was housed in an apartment on the top floor and says the elevators often fail so she cannot walk in an emergency.
Stephanie McKenzie says it was easy to return to New Mexico. However, the return has been less welcoming when it comes to her apartment. “I retired and loved New Mexico,” McKenzie said. “I had worked in Alabama, but wanted to go back to New Mexico.”
Before moving, she found an apartment in the apartment complex ‘The Pearl’ in Gibson and San Pedro. She informed them that her mobility was limited, she needed an apartment on the first floor, then paid and drove west, but when she arrived things turned out to be far from ideal.
“I said I use a walker so I have to be on the first floor,” McKenzie recalls of her experience with the leasing agent. “She said, ‘Oh no, we have elevators, you’ll be fine. We have a really nice apartment on the fourth floor that will work for you. ‘”
The catch – McKenzie says that most days it’s hard to tell if she can even rely on the elevators to leave her house while they often collapse. She recently missed a family reunion because both were out of order and she cannot use the stairs.
“I woke up thinking if this place was on fire they would surely come and tell me,” McKenzie said, remembering hearing sirens at night a few months ago. “Then when I woke up in the morning I looked out and they had this yellow tape all over the elevator. Come and find out that the elevator caught fire that night. “
The elevator has been out of service since August so there is only one other elevator available on the opposite side of the complex and if that one is out of service it is stranded. She says nothing has been done to rectify the situation and fears that if another fire breaks out, she will not be able to escape.
“They have shown no concern,” McKenzie said, adding that she made several calls to the housing management company. “You haven’t really raised any concerns.”
Meanwhile, McKenzie has bought a motorized scooter to get back and forth to the elevator, but it only does so much when it’s out of order. She hopes management will make changes to the complex to make it more handicap friendly.
“Walking down there and back to my car was really tough on my knees,” said McKenzie. “I didn’t want to go to the place where I didn’t want to go anywhere.”
In the meantime, says McKenzie, she’s looking for a new apartment on the first floor. KRQE News 13 contacted The Pearl Apartments both by phone and through their website but heard nothing.