Friday, September 28, 2007
The property manager was ejected from the meeting.
By ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN — Residents of a downtown subsidized housing facility say they have been subject to verbal and physical abuse at the hand of the building’s manager.
Residents of International Towers, 25 Market St., aired their grievances against manager Scott Burin at a public meeting Thursday.
Councilman Artis Gillam, D-1st, whose constituents include the building’s 185 low-income residents, said he organized the meeting after receiving “numerous complaints.”
International Towners resident Dianne Fill, 54, said she has been the subject of name-calling and abuse. “He treats us like we’re the scum of the earth,” said Fill.
Gillam recorded the meeting, attended by about 25 residents and several employees, to submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agency responsible for funding the facility.
Accused of physical abuse
Resident Autumn Zaccone, 28, accused Burin of grabbing her by the throat and throwing her against a wall.
“For someone to do that in a place that I’m supposed to feel safe, it’s just not right,” she said.
Burin said that he was acting in self-defense, saying that Zaccone punched him in the face. She denied that allegation.
Burin was ejected from the meeting by Gillam, when Burin failed to comply with a rule that he not address tenants directly in his statements.
Gillam had earlier read attendees an e-mail Burin had addressed to a tenant. It made references to a past evicted tenant leaving a “roach trail.” Further, in the body of the e-mail, he orders the tenant to “keep your mouth shut!!!”
Burin said he was provoked to write the e-mail by the tenant, who logged repeated complaints. The tenant was upset about female residents roaming the halls in their nightgowns, Burin said.
“Yes, I was crass,” Burin said. “I was tired and I was angry and I wrote that and I am sorry. I’m a human being.”
Gilliam said he hoped HUD would intervene on behalf of residents quickly. He said he was willing to drive to the closest HUD office in Cleveland to address officials himself, if need be.
“What I want to know is why HUD didn’t play a role in this earlier,” Gillam said.