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Residents of Columbus Colony Housing protest against management

Two people hold cardboard signs reading "Stop mental abuse" and "We are not kids. We are adults who have rights."
Allie Vugrincic
Columbus Colony Housing residents Jean O'Rourke, left, and Willis Cook hold signs during a protest on the sidewalk outside the housing community on Sunbury Road in Westerville.

About a dozen people protested outside Columbus Colony Housing in Westerville Friday morning and into the afternoon.

The group of older, largely deaf residents of the senior apartments held neon signs reading, “Enough is enough,” and “Stop mental abuse.” Cars and trucks traveling Sunbury Road offered occasional honks of support.

The residents said management had been unresponsive to their complaints and talked down to them. Some even said they were frightened of staff and stayed in their rooms to avoid them.

“We are not kids. We are adults and we are feeling controlled,” said resident Rella Hamilton. Hamilton is deaf but made audible sounds as she passionately signed.

She and other residents said the management has told people to leave if they’re unhappy. Most have nowhere to go.

Residents and staff had a meeting Thursday in which a former manager resigned, but the group still decided to protest the next day.

The Ohio School for the Deaf Alumni Association owns the property and buildings. The residents called for the OSDAA president and vice president to also resign.

But OSDAA president Derrell Doudt said he wasn’t aware of complaints until recently and some pertain to federal housing policies that can't be changed.

“And, you know, they're out here protesting and now they're saying they want to impeach me. And it's unfortunate because I wasn't in control of any of these complaints,” Doudt said.

Dan Fagan with United Church Homes, which is managing a remodel of the more than 100 apartments in the senior living building, came to Friday’s protest to hear complaints.

“You know, we really want to make ourselves available to people’s concerns.” Fagan said. “If people are saying they don’t feel like they have access to us, you know, I heard that.”

Allie Vugrincic is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She comes to Columbus from her hometown of Warren, Ohio, where she was a reporter, features writer and photographer for four years at the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator newspapers.