Smokers not obeying housing rules

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DEAR SUN SPOTS, I live in low-income federally subsidized housing managed by a local company. As of last year it is illegal for anyone to smoke in these buildings. I have never smoked but have lung disease caused by years of secondhand smoke.

There are many smokers in my building, and they all said regardless of the law they would continue to smoke in their apartments, and they most certainly do. The smoke is so thick it seeps into the halls and through my walls and floors from surrounding apartments.

Management told me that although residents sign a contract agreeing not to smoke, unless they catch them smoking they cannot enforce the law. During inspections the ashtrays are hidden.

I am suffering health problems because of this, but moving isn’t a solution since the law isn’t enforced in any of these multi-unit buildings. Will you please help me find somewhere to turn for assistance in this matter? My doctors are very concerned for my health. Thank you. — No Name via email

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ANSWER: No Name was very reluctant to be identified even by her building for fear of repercussions, so Sun Spots turned to MaineHousing, where she coincidentally knows an employee.

She said that it is up to the individual building’s management whether or not a building is no-smoking or not. Some are very strict. One in Bar Harbor allows no smoking on the property at all, including in the residents’ own cars.

Others have instituted the policy gradually, “grandfathering” in smokers who already lived there. That means they can continue to smoke until they leave, then the new tenant must not smoke.

However, it does not sound like that is the situation in your building.

The Maine Housing employee said that in some cases management is already aware of the violation of no-smoking rules and may be in the process of evicting the offender, but cannot share that information with the other residents. Eviction can be a lengthy and time-consuming process.

Sun Spots is a bit skeptical about the “have to catch them in the act” rule. Surely their apartments reek of tobacco and have stains on the walls? Or they could use surprise inspections, as well as testimony from other residents.

What about the building maintenance man or onsite manager? Surely they must be aware of the rule breaking?

Perhps the management for this particular building is sympathetic to the smokers. Sun Spots’ mother, a lifelong smoker, ran a county senior center in another state and refused to make it no-smoking despite requests — and complaints — from some seniors and her board of directors because she felt smokers were being picked on.

Or there may be other reasons for their dragging their feet Sun Spots hasn’t thought of.

Sun Spots recommends complaining repeatedly to management and the Maine State Housing Authority, which you can find at mainehousing.org or 207-626-4600. If the building management is falling down on the job, Maine Housing may be able to help.

However, if you don’t provide your name, they won’t be able to report back to you on any progress, or lack thereof. You will need to put your complaint on the record.

DEAR MS. SUN SPOTS: Could a request be made for people to include complete addresses/locations when advertising craft fairs (re Oct. 3 column). Not everyone is familiar with the locations of Buckfield Junior/Senior High School, Rumford Seniors, Esplanade, etc.

Some do a very thorough job advertising to include where to find them, which could result in greater attendance. Thank you for all your good work. — No Name via email

ANSWER: Consider your message delivered. Sun Spots will try to remember to add the street address when the writers forget.

For those who have computers, a Google search usually gives you the address and phone number at the top of the first page of hits.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Thank you for running my notice about Excelsior Grange, 446 Harris Hill Road in Poland, seeking vendors for its craft fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 29. I forgot to say that vendors have till Oct. 27 to contact me to rent tables for the fair. The fee is $20 per table. Thanks. — Kim Verrill, 207-998-2301, kimverrill@hotmail.com

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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