PORTSMOUTH — Police Chief Thomas F. Lee says his department plans on bringing criminal charges against those tenants of Anthony House who are making life miserable for others living in the federally subsidized apartment complex.
The police chief made his comments Tuesday afternoon, shortly after receiving a petition signed by 50 residents of the apartment complex, located across from Town Hall on Middle Road. The nonprofit Church Community Housing Care owns the 70-unit housing development.
In a cover letter accompanying the petition and in three letters written by residents, tenants complain of all-night partying, noise, drug use, obscene behavior and other offenses.
“The quality of our daily lives has been compromised for over a year due to a handful of residents who continually behave with disruptive, disrespectful and totally inappropriate actions, words and deeds,” stated the cover letter. “They have committed so many flagrant and illegal abuses against the lease (that EVERYONE HAS to sign) that we are at our wit’s end as to what we can do to stop it.”
Tenants at Anthony House are mostly senior citizens and some handicapped individuals, according to the cover letter. “We are law-abiding people. Most have worked their whole lives, paid their taxes and due to circumstances beyond their control are here. The hope of these citizens is to live a safe and peaceful existence,” the letter states.
In a separate letter, tenant Richard Marzialo said he has a heart condition and is “directly affected by the egregious behavior of four or five tenants” who constantly violate the lease. He accuses them of partying all night long, buzzing in strangers at all hours, “drinking and drugging” and more.
Mr. Marzialo said he has two pre-teen nieces who like to visit him, but now he makes up excuses because he refuses to expose them to obscene behavior. “I feel I’m being robbed of my time with them!” he stated in his letter.
Margaret McKenna, another tenant, said she and others are afraid for the safety of the building and all the people who live there.
“When others’ physical and mental health are put at risk, something in the system has to change. Bullies should not be allowed even in housing for the elderly and handicapped,” she wrote.
Chief vows criminal proceedings
On Tuesday, Chief Lee said his officers have had to respond to Anthony House on a number of occasions.
“I think it’s a problem. It’s mainly quality of life issues, primarily related to noise and allegations of drug use,” said the chief, adding that after speaking with his detectives he’s decided to seek “common nuisance” charges against any offenders. “We’ll bring it the court and let the judge decide.”
Police arrested two homeless people at about 2 a.m. on Dec. 8 at Anthony House after receiving a report of a disturbance inside an apartment. Police said a highly intoxicated 24-year-old female, who falsely identified herself due to multiple warrants for her arrest, got into an argument with a 44-year-old man over crack cocaine. According to the police report, the man also struck the women in the face.
Chief Lee said he’s more than willing to visit Anthony House to speak with the tenants. He agreed that the offenses detailed in the petition appear to be in violation of the lease.
“I don’t know if there’s an eviction process already in place,” he said.
Messages left for the Anthony House property manager and Steven Ostiguy, president of Church Community Housing Corporation, were not immediately returned.