Residents of the Russell Woods Apartments in Detroit have been enduring frigid temperatures this week, as multiple units have been without heat since last Friday.
Tiffany Shoate suffers from fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by chronic pain that is exacerbated by cold temperatures. A group of tenants, including her, have been without heat since the snow storm on Friday. For the past five days, she has resorted to using multiple space heaters and even the heat from her oven just to keep warm.
In the morning, the stove is utilized to remove the slight chill, after which the space heaters are promptly plugged in. The user mentioned leaving them on for a short period of time. “I don’t feel comfortable leaving them on all day due to the potential fire hazard,” Shoate expressed.
Shoate and her 15-year-old son express a sense of defeat. She has sent several emails to management. Days ago, she received a response informing her that efforts were underway to restore the heat. There has been no communication from them since she reached out earlier this week. “We are left feeling powerless in this situation,” she stated. “We are currently addressing the situation.”
VEOT Group is responsible for the management of Russell Woods Apartments. Based in Florida, the company oversees a portfolio of more than 200 properties in the Detroit area. 7 Action News contacted the CEO, Arnoldo Vetencourt, to inquire about the reasons behind the problem faced by tenants.
In June of 2023, Vetencourt revealed that the company had recently assumed management of the building and quickly discovered that it was in dire need of extensive maintenance. The recurring heating problems can be attributed to the need for updates in the boilers.
According to Vetencourt, maintenance will be present on site this Thursday in an attempt to resolve the issue. According to Shoate, the website has not been updated in a decade, but efforts are being made to improve it. “I am doing the best I can, but the freezing conditions in here are not benefiting anyone.”
On Wednesday, space heaters were delivered by VEOT Group to the affected units. “It’s consuming a significant amount of DTE power,” commented tenant Bill Minto. Minto has been using space heaters and his oven for warmth, which can be dangerous.
Minto explained that during the day, they simply turn on the oven to remove the natural gas heat. Tenants are eagerly awaiting the return of heat within the next few days as repairs are scheduled for Thursday.