Power at Franklin Towers expected to be fully restored by Friday

·2 min read

Sep. 15—Work to fully restore power to all apartments in Franklin Towers is expected to finish by the end of the week, the executive director of the city's housing authority said Thursday.

The electrical system powering the building's 200 apartments failed on Aug. 26 after a thunderstorm. Power was restored to the first six floors the next day, but a temporary fix for the residents on the seventh through sixteenth floors allowed them to use only two or three outlets in their apartments.

To fully repair the electrical system, the housing authority had to order a new bus bar, which helps distribute power in the building. The part arrived from New Mexico last week.

Electricians were at the building on Thursday and were expected to complete their work by the evening or on Friday, said Cheryl Sessions, the housing authority executive director.

When those repairs are complete, electricians will begin work to replace the entire bus bar system in a few months. Sessions said the electrical system in the building, which is original from when the high-rise was built in 1969, needs to be upgraded.

Franklin Towers is home to 210 low-income older and disabled people.

Residents on upper floors, who have not had full power in their apartments, could not use their stoves or air conditioners. The Portland Housing Authority, which owns Franklin Towers and other public housing in the city, provided some meals to residents. It also distributed $100 grocery gift cards to residents to replace food that went bad. One resident who needed air conditioning for medical reasons was moved to a hotel.

The power outage at Franklin Towers put a spotlight on other issues residents say have long plagued the building. Residents say they have tried for years to bring attention to problems like bugs, only one working elevator, leaks and dirty hallways.

The housing authority is planning a $35 million renovation, but cannot say when that project might begin.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funds and regulates public housing, has inspected Franklin Towers three times since 2018. The Housing Authority provided the scores from those inspections to the Press Herald, but said it could not share the detailed reports because large sections would need to be redacted to protect residents' privacy.

Officials said a score of 60 or higher is considered passing. In all three inspections, Franklin Towers scored in the 70s, high enough to pass but low enough to require an inspection once a year instead of every two or three years.