PERINTON, N.Y. (WROC) — A fire devastated the community at the Pines of Perinton apartment complex in January. The fire destroyed 18 apartments, and 65 people were displaced as a result. Monday, Senator Samra Brouk took a tour of some the apartments to give tenants a voice.

Residents at the apartment complex say they’ve complained about numerous issues over the years that have gone unresolved. One woman told News 8 she had mice in her apartment, grass growing on the rug, black mold, and a missing fire alarm.

“I want them to know that they are making people live this way and treat people this way, it’s inhumane of them. They don’t even treat their dogs or their cats or any animals like this. But they are treating us like that,” she said.

While no one who spoke with News 8 Monday would speculate on the cause of the fire, residents said they feel more people have been willing to listen to them since — and they want the glaring safety issues corrected. Senator Brouk and her team have been working with residents here for a while.

“Before that fire, my team had been working with residents here around some of the things that needed to be fixed frankly,” Brouk said, “just to make the place habitable, and so having the chance to actually go through and see how some of these folks are living and hopefully at the end of the day to really hear their concern.”

Tim Seegler, the president of the tenants union, says there are too many code violations to count. 

“We had a serious fire here, and people are concerned,” he said. Seegler doesn’t know what caused last month’s fire, but says all the problems here, coupled with the plaster and asbestos structure, “It’s like lighting a match, really.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. News 8 did reach out to the property owners for comment and have yet to hear back.

Senator Brouk and Assemblymember Jen Lunsford also hosted a virtual call Monday night with residents to hear concerns. Nearly 70 residents joined the call to share concerns about the livability of the units. Common concerns ranged from insect and rodent infestations, mold, water leaks, and gas leaks.

One resident reported that her daughter was scratched in the face by mice while sleeping in her bed. Others reported ceilings that fell in as a result of unaddressed water damage. Several residents also shared that there were discrepancies between what management at The Pines of Perinton asked them to pay versus what was listed on their account. 

Several residents also shared concerns about safety. Specific concerns were voiced regarding poor lighting in outdoor areas and doors that do not lock. Other residents shared concerns about wheelchairs getting stuck on unshoveled sidewalks and parking areas, a lack of ADA-compliant ramps and parking, and doors that do not open or are not wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. In response to the concerns heard tonight, Senator Brouk, Assemblymember Lunsford, and others plan to work together with tenants to identify solutions to improve the living conditions for residents and hold property management accountable.

Senator Samra Brouk said, “After seeing several units at The Pines in person, and hearing from residents on our call tonight, enough is enough. Over the past several months my office has been working to find solutions for residents, and now we have an even clearer picture of what needs to be done.  No family should live under the circumstances that we saw today, and no one should fear eviction for speaking out against poor living conditions. I’m grateful for the bravery of the Pines residents who spoke up and shared their experiences, and I remain committed to finding opportunities for real change.”

Assemblymember Jen Lunsford said, “I want to thank the residents who came forward tonight to speak about their experiences. For years residents of the Pines of Perinton have been complaining about mold, mice and other hazardous conditions. They have been treated with disrespect, suspicion and disregard by management. The fire last month was the straw that broke the camel’s back. What we heard from residents tonight is that they are fed up, and it’s easy to see why. With so few affordable rental options in Fairport these families can’t simply move. The management at the Pines needs to step up and remedy these dangerous living conditions before another tragedy strikes.”

A statement from a Pines of Perinton spokesperson Tuesday said:

“The staff at the Pines of Perinton take these concerns very seriously. We urge residents with maintenance issues to report them to management immediately so that they can be addressed as soon as possible.

In addition to regular inspections, resident feedback and cooperation are the most important ways for us to identify and resolve matters like these. That’s why we have an on-site maintenance team and offer residents a 24-our hotline to report problems after normal business hours.

In 2021, our maintenance staff completed 2,350 service request – an average of 45 each week. In addition, pest control technicians are on-site weekly to treat the property and apartments where issues have been reported.

The property team works hard every day to improve resident satisfaction, while dealing with the inherent challenge of managing a 43-acre property with 508 apartments and almost 1,200 residents. In anonymous satisfaction surveys conducted in the last two years, we have received high mark from residents for maintenance support and property upkeep, professionalism and courtesy.

We recognize that more needs to be done. The Pines of Perinton is 50 years old and, since it was acquired in 2019, we have spent more than $1.1 million on capital improvements to address issues we inherited from prior ownership.

Later this year, with the support of the State of New York, the County of Monroe and the Town of Perinton, we are planning to invest more than $50 million in a phased renovation project that will not only dramatically upgrade resident homes and the property but also preserve the apartments as affordable housing.

The renovation will deliver new kitchens, bathrooms and windows in every apartment; new roofs on every building; upgraded mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems with better energy efficiency; and improved common areas, breezeways, laundry rooms and playgrounds. In addition, 26 apartments will be made handicapped accessible – the first-ever accessible units at this property.

Equally as important, the affordable housing programs currently serving residents will be extended for decades to come, guaranteeing that the Pines of Perinton will remain the best and largest source of affordable housing in the area. With support from local, state and federal officials, we look forward to starting work on this important renovation project by the end of this year.”