By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,277)
Tenants at 563 Cumberland Avenue remembered Donald Stain, 54, as a person who would do anything for his neighbors and often did. Several recalled this afternoon how he often helped them carry groceries into their apartments on upper floors of the building when he saw them in the hallways. Another recalled how he helped her move into her apartment years ago. Stain’s mother and brother lived in the area,
That’s just what Donnie was doing just before he fell to his death from a second floor balcony onto an asphalt parking lot behind the 11 unit building near the intersection of Deering Avenue. After he’d helped another tenant with her groceries he apparently went out onto the balcony for a cigarette, leaned against the railing which gave way and sent him falling to his death. Most tenants in the building heard the noise and rushed to look. They saw him lying in the parking lot. That was around 3:00 yesterday afternoon. Several said today they had never seen him on the balcony previously. Most of the tenants are on disability of one kind or another. They are often home during the day time. Stain was one of them who looked out for other members of this close knit group.
One tenant who did not want to speak on the record said that they knew the balconies were unsafe. They hadn’t been inspected in 20 years. The landlord, Harry Krigman, (a Cape Elizabeth resident) was aware of that fact as well. The City told him to replace part of the roof of the building as well as the roofs over the balconies. Those roofs were not replaced and only a tarp was placed over the bad part of the roof according to the tenant who did not want to be identified by name. “It’s so tragic that it took his death to point out these problems here.” he said. “Donnie was always helping people and that is his legacy.” It is believed that Krigman owns a total of 5 apartment buildings.
John Jensen, property manager, boarded up all access to the balconies for the tenants of the building. This afternoon tenants were wondering if the landlord would repair them or if they would no longer have access to the balconlies. Tenants are frequently reluctant to complain to city authorities about the condition of the buildings for fear of reprisal by the landlord.
The City said the death is being investigated, but it does not appear suspicious at this time.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of yet another Portland resident from unsafe housing conditions. When is the City going to take action and start protecting residents from unfit and unsafe housing? Landlords must be held accountable. The people of Portland deserve protection. The Portland Tenants Union demands justice for all who are denied safe and affordable housing,” said Crystal Cron, co-chair of the PTU.
Despite recommendations in February by the Fire & Safety Task Force to expand housing inspections and code enforcement including designating a city official to oversee housing safety, little has changed for tenants since the tragic Noyes Street fire on November 1, 2014. In the city’s manager’s budget recommendations to the city council on April 6th, the recommendations from the Fire & Safety Task Force were put forth for the 2016 fiscal year, according to a press release issued by the newly formed Portland Tenants Union today.
The Portland housing stock is among the oldest in the nation, if not the oldest.