SHA says no to replacing AC; Hummel suggests discrimination

SHA says no to replacing AC; Hummel suggests discrimination

SCITUATE – Sacha Hummel sat in his stifling apartment at Rockland Oaks on Monday, wondering how he might be able to afford a new air conditioning unit after his old one broke.

Two weeks ago, Hummel put in a request with the Scituate Housing Authority for repairs on the wall-mounted air conditioning unit, only to be told that maintenance on the units is no longer covered at the subsidized senior living facility.

Last Thursday, during a Scituate Housing Authority meeting, members of the board agreed to fix the unit, if possible, but not replace it. Hummel said the repair company informed him last Friday that the unit’s Freon was sealed, and it could not be fixed. He was told he would need to pay to replace the $600 unit.

Hummel said his air conditioning unit is not on his lease as a covered item, though the unit came with the apartment.

“I cannot afford that. I don’t have that money. That’s why I’m in (senior) housing,” he said.

Hummel said Rural Housing and Consulting, Rockland Oak’s property management company, offered to purchase an air conditioning unit for him on a payment plan. He said it was scheduled for delivery and installation this week.

Pauline Galbreath, of Rural Housing, would not confirm the agreement, saying that what she does to help people outside of her role as property manager is personal.

Hummel said he confronted Galbreath about her calling him a transvestite, hinting that the issue with the air conditioning could be because he’s gay.

“She’s justifying it as what my fellow tenant said,” he said.

Galbreath did not deny the comment, saying she was repeating to Hummel what she was told by residents after returning as property manager. She said she tries to treat people nicely when she can and was not sure how to address him.

Air conditioning units were never included in the lease, Galbreath said, and she claimed no policy changes have been made to cover or not cover units during her time managing the property.

“It never was a procedure to own or buy air conditioning for people,” she said.

Hummel, who says he is “gay and famous,” said he should be celebrating himself during Pride Month and what he has overcome. In his younger years growing up in Scituate, he said he heard hateful and derogatory terms shouted at him frequently. He said he thought he had grown past it.

“It’s hitting me harder where we are in society. It’s ignorance,” he said.

Hummel said he is proud to have won Ms. Gay Rhode Island in 1977, and is proud of the things he has done in his lifetime. He owns the fashion boutique Glitz in Scituate and is a lifelong Scituate resident. He said he raises money for the Scituate Animal Shelter, runs a scholarship fund, and volunteers for town boards.

“She’s really treating me wrong, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

Galbreath said she covers properties in three states, and no housing authority covers air conditioning units as far as she knows. Leases cover appliances, including ovens and laundry machines, and heat and electricity, she said, and air conditioning units are not approved for government spending.

“It’s not a health and safety requirement,” she said, adding that Rockland Oaks is an independent living facility.

Hummel said for a story last week that when he was resident commissioner with the SHA, money he collected from laundry machines was used to purchase 12 new window-mounted air conditioning units at Rockland Oaks on Rockland Road.

Galbreath said air conditioning was never covered in the lease, but Hummel said the practice of ensuring cool living units was honored previously.


The Valley Breeze is committed to keeping quality news stories like this one free to our readers. You can be a huge part of this local journalism success story by making a one-time or monthly contribution to what we do every week. Thank you as always for reading.

Hummel was voted off the board in 2019 by the new all-Republican Town Council. He had run for Town Council as a Democrat.

Galbreath said this week that she is not yet able to report that water quality testing in response to ongoing water problems is complete at Rockland Oaks, though she said the results have been clear and the water is good to drink. She said SHA still provides bottled water for drinking and cooking and will continue to conduct water tests.

“We’re thriving here, trying to help people,” she said.

Comments

Why can he live in senior housing. Says he can’t afford $600 for an AC unit. Well here’s a suggestion. Buy a used one. He owns a business in town. According to all the reviews on line the store is doing well. He must be paying rent for his store. But he’s too broke to buy a $600 AC unit.

Are you a customer? Where are all the glowing reviews....I couldn't find them?
As for the a/c I hope you don't know anyone in housing thats on a fixed income. Maybe you can make a donation for all the a/c's that need to be replaced.

He probably thinks if his TV breaks they should give him a new one. If you can’t afford the air conditioner buy a fan. There’s plenty of people in this world who can’t afford luxuries like an air condition. Live within your means.