BROOKLINE (CBS) – Home to more than a hundred low income seniors, this Brookline apartment building has been completely wrapped in white plastic for more than seven months, concerned family members telling the I-Team, “I suffocate just looking at the building thinking there are people stuck inside.”
With the average age of residents at 85, a resident WBZ spoke to called the conditions uncomfortable. “It’s really awful and it’s very depressing,” she said. “Every week management says don’t open the windows. It’s really is a hot house between the film there’s no air no ventilation no breeze no draft nothing.”
The building is part of the Center Communities of Brookline, and is owned by Hebrew Senior Life. The subsidized Section 8 based building is undergoing a major renovation that includes taking off the façade.
The construction plans, approved by the town of Brookline, included covering the exterior of the building in plastic during construction. A family member of a senior living in the building says she has to call her mom in the morning to tell her if it’s raining or snowing.
Rhonda Glyman, Executive Director, Center Communities of Brookline, told the I-Team, “There were alternatives but none of them offered the safety, weather protection, or dust control that this tarp enclosure offered.”
She went on to say, “We shared with the residents way before the construction started why we were putting it in and although the view would be blocked the sunlight would come in. The safety and well-being of residents is what’s most important to us.”
The I-Team obtained town records showing concerned residents filed complaints with Brookline’s health, environmental and building inspectors. Michael Yanovitch, the Deputy Building Commissioner in Brookline told WBZ, “The building probably didn’t have to be wrapped. It’s definitely different. Most have been unoccupied buildings. The environmental [and] public health departments are content that there are no existing violations.”
Encasing an occupied residential building in plastic during construction is unusual. However, Hebrew Senior Life sent us photos of three other projects where wrapping was used. Two are affordable housing developments and the third is senior housing.
One resident told WBZ, “We asked them if you take the bricks off this side why not take the cover off – they said it’s too expensive. Dust will be out on the street. So they’re protecting the street but not protecting us.”
Hebrew Senior Life says the renovations, when completed, will improve the quality of life for residents. The project is scheduled to last until the end of the year.