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Hardin apartment residents go without heat for at least a week amid negative temperatures

Beverly St. Germaine
Posted at 6:41 AM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-14 20:19:55-04

HARDIN — Residents of Rangeview Apartments, an affordable housing complex in Hardin, said they went without heating for at least a week while the region experienced temperatures below zero.

“It’s been like being outside, inside the apartment," said Julia Wolfe, an 82-year-old resident.

Temperatures were low enough to burst a sprinkler system pipe on Tuesday, according to residents, which seemed to keep the carpet damp in some areas of the complex until Thursday, when Q2 initially reported on the situation.

“This is the one place we got a roof over our head," said Caroleean Reed, a resident at the complex.

The majority of residents, many of whom were over the age of 50, said they have been using their ovens to heat their apartments.

“Last night and the night before, I had a cup of (soda). This morning, I still had ice in it. That’s never happened before," said Claudine Farrar, who lives at the complex.

Long-time residents said they have been struggling with heating and other concerns, on and off, for as long as two years.

“My ceiling was leaking. It’s been leaking for about two years ... They came, they patched it up, but it will still leak," said Richard St. Germaine, a wheelchair-bound resident.

Richard St. Germaine
Richard St. Germaine, a Rangeview reisdent, sits in front of his furniture which is covered by trash bags to keep them from water damage.

Syringa Property Management said it has been running the complex since September, after it took over management duties from HDA Management.

A Syringa representative told Q2 the company wishes to "remain vague about the timeline" of complaint reception and response. They cited vendor scarcity and said the company responds to complaints as soon as it can in an attempt remain in compliance with state officials.

Residents said they have seen little difference in management patterns since Syringa's takeover.

“The person that took care of this place, it was like, whenever it was convenient for him to fix it … Whenever he comes, he comes," said Anna Smith-Backbone, a wheelchair-bound resident.

She said, in one instance, the elevator stopped working and she was left without accessibility for nearly two months.

“I had to literally get myself off my own wheelchair, onto the floor, and step by step down to the first floor, and then I had my baby get my wheelchair down for me," said Smith-Backbone.

Anna Smith-Backbone
Anna Smith-Backbone sits in front of her stove, which she uses to heat her affordable housing apartment at Rangeview Apartments in Hardin, Montana.

She said, however, she is more concerned for other, less capable, residents.

“I adapt. I make due with what I got … some don’t know how to adapt. What do they do? Sit there in the cold," said Smith-Backbone.

Residents also noted concerns of drug use, indoor smoking, and mice and bedbug infestations.

“(Bedbugs) seem to go all over the apartment in this building," said Christopher St. Germaine, a veteran and brother to Richard, whose mother, Beverly, is an elderly resident as Rangeview.

The community said they feel they must look out for each other amid these issues.

“We all got each others back, y’know," said Reed.