Woman Forced To Crawl Up Stairs After Elevator Breaks - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Woman Forced To Crawl Up Stairs After Elevator Breaks

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PHILADELPHIA -

It is painful, excruciating to watch 63-year-old Phyllis Montgomery crawl the 13 steps that lead from the first floor of her North Philadelphia rowhome to the second.

She takes a dozen medications a day, suffers from brittle bones and heart trouble, and this is how she gets upstairs now that her city-installed elevator has died.

"I loved it," Montgomery said of the elevator. "It was my legs! Oh God, it was heaven. I miss it so much!"

The Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation installed the $18,000 elevator in Montgomery's home seven years ago, part of its Adaptive Modifications program to help give those with disabilities more independence.

Montgomery says the agency seemed to wash its hands once the equipment was in place.

"No one comes to even say, 'Well, we just came to look, to see if you're abusing it, misusing it. Or are you using it?'" she said.

In January, the elevator stopped working, so Montgomery called the head of the Adaptive Modifications program to report the breakdown.

"He said, 'Motor's going to cost about $3,500.' I said, 'Are you crazy?'"

Montgomery was responsible for the repair costs.

It turns out the contract she signed at the time of installation spells out a three-year warranty for mechanical equipment. But that warranty is mentioned in a portion of the contract meant for the contractor/installer to read and sign—not the client.

That three-year warranty had expired without Montgomery ever knowing it existed.

FOX 29's Bruce Gordon called PHDC to ask about its policy: clients seemingly on their own once the warranty runs out.

Those who couldn't afford the pricey equipment in the first place are now forced to pay thousands of dollars to repair it, with no further help from the agency that provided the initial help.

Nearly four minutes after she began her agonizing crawl up the stairs, Phyllis reaches the second floor, fighting back tears as she cries out, "I made it, Bruce!"

Down below, sits the elevator. Silent. Still. That "heaven-sent" gift is now a hellish reminder of mobility lost.

"Lost and found," says Phyllis. "I found it, then I lost it. And I can't get it back."

The PHDC would not talk to Gordon on camera, but in a written statement, said a tight budget forces them to make tough choices. Providing ongoing financial support for maintenance and repairs to equipment for some clients, they said, would mean others in need would get no help.

In this case, that policy means an $18,000 elevator sits unused. And Phyllis Montgomery must crawl, on her hands and knees, to her second floor.

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