In their own words

Seniors living in Chicago Housing Authority apartments have faced problems with the elevators for years. A WBEZ and Better Government Association investigation found a history of broken elevators and a record-keeping system in disarray. Hear from tenants who say a functioning elevator is more than a luxury.

Wayne Sivels

68, 7th foor, Zelda Ormes Apartments

Sivels was trapped in an elevator one day in February in which it bounced from floor to floor and the doors would not open. He said the harrowing experience took him on a herky jerky ride up and down, and at each stop the doors failed to open. After several stops, the elevator finally made its way to the lobby, where the doors opened, he said.

"It's crucial, absolutely crucial, that both of our elevators are operating..."

Listen to Wayne's story.

Moe Shanfield

85, 11th foor, Caroline Hedger Apartments

Shanfield said he lives in fear of those times when all three elevators in his building are on the fritz, and the night he was found unconscious in his apartment in a pool of blood.

"If I had died, maybe people could have begun to see the danger that is being presented to everybody in this building..."

Listen to Moe's story.

Jeliner Jordan

74, 2nd foor, Zelda Ormes Apartments

Jordan said the elevators in her building turned dangerous one day when the elevator got stuck with three older women inside. According to 911 calls from the women inside the elevator, one of them screamed to rescuers: "Get us out of here! I can't take it!" One of the three women was taken by ambulance to the hospital after passing out.

"When the elevator opened, one individual was on the ground..."

Listen to Jeliner's story.

Jacqueline Cobbins

64, 20th foor, Patrick Sullivan Apartments

Cobbins, who suffers from chronic lung disease, says her fear of being trapped in the elevators has prompted her to carry two inhalers onto the elevators just in case. She said one elevator in her building is so prone to break downs that the building manager takes it offline completely on the weekends whether it is working or not.

"Please, please replace our elevators..."

Listen to Jacqueline's story.
  • Audio: Odette Yousef
  • Photos: Madison Hopkins, Alejandra Cancino, Odette Yousef
  • Text: Mia Sato
  • Web development and design: Patrick Judge, Paula Friedrich