Elderly Residents of Affordable Inner Northeast Portland Housing Complex Sue Over “Unsafe, Unsanitary Conditions”

Seniors allege toilets and elevators didn’t work at the Allen Fremont Plaza Apartments.

Five residents of the Allen Fremont Plaza Apartments filed lawsuits June 1 in Multnomah County Circuit Court against their landlord, Reach-Allen Fremont LLC.

The residents—Gary Bailey, John Brant, Huey Martin, Cathy Mayes and Lisa McConnell—leveled a series of remarkable allegations about the conditions in their building, located at 221 NE Fremont St. and owned by the nonprofit Reach Community Development.

The plaintiffs allege, among other issues, that:

* Reach “failed to maintain the common area bathrooms at the Allen Fremont Plaza in good repair and in an accessible condition, forcing elderly tenants to urinate and defecate in the hallway.”

* Reach failed to provide adequate security and lighting, “resulting in criminal activity, including harassment, ‘camping’ in common areas by non-tenants, drug use and drug selling within the building, and incidents of non-tenants littering and looting common areas.”

* “The premises at the Allen Fremont Plaza substantially lacked safety from fire hazards and lacked proper ventilation.”

* “Allen Fremont Plaza substantially lacked elevators maintained in good repair, forcing disabled tenants to literally crawl down flights of stairs to exit the building, or to stay in their apartments for days until the elevator was working again.”

Reach is a huge player in the affordable housing business. It has 2,727 units housing 3,500 tenants in Oregon and Southwest Washington and recorded revenues of nearly $21 million in 2020. But tenants say that since the nonprofit took over the 64-unit Allen Fremont Plaza seven years ago, it has ignored the concerns of tenants, most of whom are elderly and some disabled.

“Reach Community Development promised tenants it would make improvements to the building seven years ago when it took over management, but since then, tenants say conditions have only gotten worse,” Alacia Jayne, a spokeswoman for the tenants, said in a statement.

Michael Fuller of the OlsenDaines law firm is representing the tenants.

Lauren Schmidt, a spokeswoman for Reach, says the organization is responsive to resident concerns.

“This week, all building systems at Allen Fremont were rechecked, and elevator, door locks, security cameras, lighting and life safety systems are all operational. The building is being cleaned regularly by a cleaning service, common-area bathrooms are open during business hours, there is no water penetrating the building, and no active pest control concerns inside the building,” Schmidt said. “Reach continues to have a security contract in place at Allen Fremont providing nightly foot patrols two times a day, seven days a week.”