Housing agency works to accommodate 772-pound tenant
The Associated Press
11/17/03 1:04 AM
CLEVELAND (AP) -- The city' s public housing agency is trying to resolve a lengthy dispute by accommodating the needs of a 772-pound tenant immobilized by her weight.
Carmen Bowen, 44, has been involved in a two-year dispute with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority over how much work must be done to help her move around her apartment.
The agency is about to provide her with a handicapped-accessible apartment with extra space to allow an oversized wheelchair to turn. Bowen lives with her 19-year-old son and a caregiver.
Still, Bowen filed a discrimination complaint, saying the agency took too long. Housing officials responded that the agency went well beyond what federal disability law requires at a cost of about $15,000.
" Her special condition requires special equipment," acting Executive Director George Phillips said last week.
The modifications include removing doors and walls, installing an automatic door operator and panic device, demolishing the existing bathroom and installing a special shower, and putting in a sidewalk to the front door. Bowen could move in next month.
In her current apartment, Bowen can' t move from a medical bed in the middle of her living room.
In August, 22 firefighters and emergency medical technicians worked for 2¬Ĺ hours to move Bowen from her apartment so she could have dental work. Emergency crews had to help her back when she returned. The authority widened the door in October.
Bowen does not yet have the wheelchair. The Medicaid government insurance program has not yet said whether it will pay for it.