Veterans living in dangerous conditions By Dalia Díaz

The building at 32-34 Parker St., Lawrence is fairly new and has 10 apartments occupied by veterans.  It is owned by Housing Support, Inc. in Newburyport but since 2018, the residents have been complaining about water licking from pipes running on the floors and stairs; mold, dangerous air inside the building yet, the windows cannot be opened.

The worse infraction is that they never build a second egress and since most of them are older or disabled, they fear that in case of fire they may not make it out.

Inspectors have come through the years and have recommended using a stair leading to the roof in case of fire.  No one would think of saving themselves by going to the roof.  The surprise is that at the top of the stairs, the door has a lock and, in case of fire, they would probably perish right there.

Many people going by the building may think that there is a back door by the gas meters but that’s an outdoor closet.

When the mold on the floor expands, someone comes and cleans it up saying it was not mold, perhaps just dirt?  The same for the leaks; they get wiped up until the next time.  The heating vents in each apartment are spewing something that has not been checked.  It is also difficult for them to sleep because the alarms go off at all hours of the day or night, as well as many lights fixtures not working.

City Inspector David Houle inspected the building on August 24, 2020, and issued a warning demanding that the second means of egress be resolved within 48 hours and the alarm and lights in 24 hours.  Residents don’t believe that he has been back and none of the work has been done.

On August 26, 2020, Paula Newcomb, executive director of Housing Support, Inc. wrote the following to Mike Armano, Inspectional Services Director, “I am attaching information requested by Fire Department Captain Delaney and Building Inspector David Houle in April, 2020 that had been sent on another occasion. The code analysis completed by the building architect along with the occupancy certificates issued by the City, were provided and we have had no response.  I have been made aware by another agency, that a code violation may have been issued by the building department in April concerning egress. We have never received a violation notice.”

A week ago, Mercedes París of Telemundo described the conditions inside the building and interviewed Mayor Dan Rivera.  He commented that “The people in charge of that building should be ashamed of themselves and should fix it.”

The property is located in Lawrence and he is responsible for sanitary conditions in the city.  Just imagine that it was owned by a resident without influence.  Davie Houle has a reputation for making the lives of residents miserable with his demands and ruthless behavior.  That doesn’t seem to be the case here.  He’s very quiet.

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