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Residents concerned about ‘dangerous’ stairs at apartment: ‘It’s breaking apart’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Rounding the corner of his apartment building's staircase this summer, Tremayne Howard said his legs suddenly dropped through a hole at the top of the stairs in Woodland Crossing.

"It was like a gap, it wasn't connected to this no more it was just a gap, a hole," Howard said. "I fell right here."

Howard is not the only person who has allegedly tumbled on a staircase at the Section 8 complex in Richmond.

"Do you think they're property caring for these stairs?" CBS 6 Problem Solver investigator Melissa Hipolit asked a man whose kids live at Woodland Crossing.

"No ma'am, nope," Maurice Scott responded.

Tremayne Howard

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said a woman slipped and fell on a staircase at the complex in July.

"They're dangerous and a lot of them are rusted," Scott said.

Soon after, a city property maintenance inspector visited Woodland Crossing and found the property "unsafe for the stairways to every building within the apartment complex due to collapsing stairs and possibility of further collapse that could cause further damage or death of persons."

"That could be one of my kids that fall and hurt they-self," Scott said.

Woodland crossing is maintained by the same management company that oversees the troubled Essex Village complex in Henrico.

That company, PK Management, was told by the city inspector to fix the stairs at Woodland Crossing by the end of August, or threatened the complex could be condemned.

"If you look right here you can see where it's breaking apart," resident Chrystal Miller said.

CBS 6 obtained a copy of the engineering report for the stairs.

It shows several on-going issues including rusted holes, cracks in the concrete supporting the stairs, and support brackets showing partial loss of support.

Chrystal Miller

"It's a safety hazard big time," Miller said.

The violations came more than two months after a CBS 6 investigation into health and safety problems at the complex.

At the time, the president of PK Management told us they were rigorously addressing problems by bringing in third party contractors and staff.

Miller admits things have improved somewhat.

"I do feel like the office is trying," Miller said.

HUD told CBS 6 that PK Management secured all the stairs following the city's inspection, yet Miller said the condition of the stairs remains a big problem.

"There's a hole in there I can stick my finger through... look at that... see how that just chipped away?  And they're supposed to be safe?" Miller asked.

Miller and others at the complex continue to question if the 1.4 million taxpayer dollars the complex receives annually from HUD to subsidize rent went toward maintaining the property.

"Where is the money going? A lot of us wonder that," Miller said.

"So where is the money? Where is the money?" Scott asked.

Since we last visited Woodland Crossing, HUD re-inspected the property and improved the complex's score by 14 points.

HUD said they found no issues related to the stairs.

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