News10NBC Investigates: Tenants in 55+ building desperate for increased security

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — People renting apartments in a 55+ building say they need stepped-up security and they need it now. They live in Eastman Gardens, along East Main Street in Rochester, and say they don’t feel safe coming or going into the building. They called News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke for help, and Jenn brought their concerns straight to the company that owns the property.

Many of the seniors who live at Eastman Gardens have been tenants since it was renovated nine years ago. “We had maintenance going on here, we had activities, everything that they said in the brochure, they were doing it,” says Katrina, a long-time tenant.

“When she moved in here it was great,” says Melinda, whose mom lives at Eastman Gardens. “She was one of the first original tenants, and the building was great, it was very nice, very secure — but it’s just gone downhill,” she says.

The biggest concern is security. Nearly a dozen of the people who live in the building wanted to speak with News10NBC about what’s been going on inside.

“We have a lot of homeless people that come out on our front porch out there trying to get in, or getting in and doing stuff,” says Katrina.

“I came out of my apartment one day and I found a young homeless person in between the doors, shoes off, funking up the whole building,” says another long-time tenant, Jerry.

“There are people sleeping in the vestibules, there’s people sleeping in the common areas,” explains Melinda.

And, they say, sometimes those people are roaming the halls. “I saw a man walking around checking to see whose apartment was open that he can get into and do whatever he wanted to do — I mean that’s very fearful,” says Will, another tenant.

Rochester Police have been called to the building dozens of times over the last six months for a variety of reasons, some of those calls for trespass.

The tenants tell News10NBC they’ve been trying to stand up for themselves but they worry about the danger. “I said (to a man who walked in) ‘do you live here, who lives here with you? Nobody, well then, you don’t need to be … how did you get in here? You need to be going back out that door,’” recalls Melvin, another long-time tenant.

The tenants say the problems are being caused by a combination of issues. “Sometimes this door doesn’t latch all the way,” Melinda showed, “so, this could get left open and they can somehow make their way into this and turn right there into the building and all the elevators.” There also hasn’t been a building supervisor in Eastman Gardens for the past several weeks; tenants say she was scared off after having a knife pulled on her by a homeless person she was trying to get out of the lobby.

“When you got someone coming threatening you with a gun, to the window and just giving you the finger, knives in the building, I mean, come on,” a frustrated Will says.

The building is owned by Home Leasing, one of the bigger property management companies in the area. Its Senior Vice President of Property Management tells News10NBC that she’s heard the tenants’ concerns and is working on it. Since News10NBC first contacted Home Leasing a few weeks ago, it has hired a new community leader for Eastman Gardens. That person started on Monday and will be tasked with making sure all security upgrades are underway.

Home Leasing says it has ordered a new camera system for Eastman Gardens that will be installed in the coming days and it will be holding meetings with tenants to reaffirm security measures. The tenants tell News10NBC they’ll keep us posted on the upgrades.