UPDATE: A source familiar with fair housing issues tells the Rant that any resident of the Wilrik who wishes to file a complaint about lack of elevator access can call 1-855-797-FAIR (3247) and leave a message.
Residents at the seven story Wilrik Hotel — many of whom are reportedly disabled — don’t have access to the building’s elevator for up to 15 hours each week while it is closed “for daily cleaning,” according to a sign posted in the building’s lobby.
“Reminder,” reads the sign, which bears the letterhead of the organization which owns the historic downtown building. “The elevator will be shut down from 9:30 a.m. till 12 p.m. Monday through Saturday for daily cleaning.”
Robert Woods, one of the building’s owners,said Tuesday that it’s a daily practice to clean not just the elevator but also the lobby of the building “based on what we find when we come in that morning” since it is not uncommon for non-residents to find their way into the building in night hours.
“The two and a half hours is cursory, but the sign is there so people know what hours we will be cleaning every day,” he said.
Woods also said that the time was set because most of the disabled residents are typically gone from the building by 9:30 a.m. but that staff will turn the elevator back on at the request of any resident who has a specific appointment or need to use it.
The Wilrik has been owned since 2013 by a private nonprofit called the Sanford Affordable Housing Development Corporation, which is headed up by a board of directors that appoints its own members. Although plans were announced at the time of the SAHDC’s acquisition of the building from Duke Energy to transform it into a high-end residential facility as soon as 2018, it was revealed last year that the building must remain designated as low-income housing until at least 2027 due to requirements of tax credits associated with the property.
In coverage by the Sanford Herald of downtown parking issues published in 2016, Woods stated that as many has half of the building’s residents are handicapped or elderly (subscription required) and asked that dedicated parking be made available for them:
Woods cites an example of one of his elderly residents returning from a trip to the grocery store and finding an open parking space in front of the building. After unloading their groceries into their apartment, they forget to move their vehicle in two hours and receive a $25 ticket. Woods said that fine (which before Tuesday was $5) would cripple the finances of his residents because the majority are on fixed incomes.