Dec 21, 2012 8:12 PM by Andy Koen
COLORADO SPRINGS - Outside of the Colorado Springs Housing Authority board meeting Thursday, 79-year-old Rose Reed and her daughter Elizabeth wear signs of protest and wave to cars passing by on S. Nevada Avenue.
Rose says the smoke from her neighbors apartments at the Senior Heritage Plaza are damaging her health. Senior Heritage is a rent controlled housing unit subsided with federal funds from the Housing and Urban Development Department and managed by CSHA. The Reeds would like the Housing Authority to completely ban smoking in the building, or at least move the smokers to another room.
"I'm in a good position cause there's only the one across the hall and the one next door. If they could move those two people they could make a half a building smoke free."
Elizabeth, her daughter, says they resorted to protests out of frustration. After 18 months of requests and complaints, Rose still can't get away from the smoke.
"I feel like Housing Authority that their tactics and the Housing Board so far, it seems like they don't respect their tenants."
But Gene Montoya, the Executive Director of the Housing Authority, says that's just not true. He says they offered Rose an apartment on the third floor away from the smokers but she refused to take it.
He also says her unit is next to the only wheelchair accessible rooms in the building, and that the tenants in some of those rooms are smokers.
"Those are the only units that are accessible for those families. So, that doesn't appear to be the best solution for what Mrs. Reed would like to accomplish."
He also gave News 5 access to the Reeds file which documents the four of the civil rights complaints Rose and Elizabeth have filed with State and Federal Agencies about the smoking issue. In each case, the accusations were declared unfounded.
Still, director Montoya says he wants to make Rose, her daughter, and the smokers all happy.
"We need to adopt policies that accomodates all of our families including those who smoke."
The Colorado Clean Air Act prohibits smoking in public buildings. However, the law does not apply to private residences. Even though the rents are subsidized, the apartments at Senior Heritage are still considered individual homes.