A day after a 53-year-old man fell to his death from a second-floor porch, a tenants group has renewed its call for the creation of a housing safety office to protect tenants from unsafe conditions.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of yet another Portland resident from unsafe housing conditions,” the Portland Tenants Union said in a statement Thursday about the death of Donald Stain. “When is the city going to take action and start protecting residents from unfit and unsafe housing? Landlords must be held accountable.”

Stain, who lived on the second floor at 563 Cumberland Ave., fell about 20 feet from a porch at the rear of the building around 3 p.m. Wednesday, landing on a paved parking area. Portland police said they believe Stain went out on the porch to smoke a cigarette and fell when he leaned against the railing and it gave way. Stain’s brother, Bert Stain, said authorities told him his brother hit head-first and most likely died instantly.

Stain said his brother had a kind and generous spirit.

“He was a great guy. He would do a lot of errands for elderly people, who couldn’t get outside their home,” Stain said.

The Portland City Council is considering a proposal to create a housing safety office and add more housing inspectors, city spokeswoman Jessia Grondin said, adding that the city is encouraging tenants to report potentially unsafe conditions for housing inspectors to investigate.


The city budget proposed this month includes $600,000 to establish a housing safety office that would be funded by fees assessed on local landlords. The proposal to create a housing office, which would include fire safety inspectors, comes in response to a fire that killed six people on Noyes Street in November.

Bert Stain, who also lives in Portland and spoke with his brother on a daily basis, said his brother had complained to him about the railing on the deck “three or four times” over the 14 years he lived in the apartment, but never filed a complaint with city officials.

The building at 563 Cumberland Ave. was constructed in 1900, and a four-story structure supporting three porches was added to the back of the apartment sometime before 1952, according to city assessing records.

The city cut off access to the porches after Stain fell, and building inspectors couldn’t assess the porches’ safety until police concluded their investigation into his death, Grondin said. It’s possible the building inspectors could issue their report Friday, she said.

City records show that the city received only sporadic complaints from tenants at 563 Cumberland Ave., and none of them involved porches or railings. A report on the complaints suggests that they were all resolved, although some required two or three follow-ups from city housing inspectors.

The apartment building is owned by Harry Krigman of Cape Elizabeth. He didn’t respond to an email or a phone message seeking comment Thursday.


Grondin, the city’s spokeswoman, said housing inspectors are scheduling checks on two other apartment buildings in Portland that Krigman owns, at 528 Deering Ave. and 218 Walton St.

Bert Stain was surprised that his brother had gone out onto the porch to smoke because he usually did so inside the apartment, even though that wasn’t allowed. He said his brother would have been careful around porch railings because Bert had fallen after one gave way and sent him to the hospital for a month about 15 years ago.

His brother often complained to him about upkeep in the building, Bert Stain said, and on a few occasions, had done some of his own repairs around the apartment and deducted the cost from his rent check. However, Bert Stain said his older brother never mentioned making any repairs to the porch.

According to city records, the last inspection at the Cumberland Avenue building was conducted in 2012. That was a routine fire inspection, which city officials said typically involves checking smoke and fire detectors, fire escapes and boilers. The fire inspectors are not required to check the porches, Grondin said, although they would have noted any major disrepair if they had seen it on the exterior of the building.

The report indicated no violations were found.

City records also show seven separate instances of inspections or complaints about the property dating to 1994, ranging from complaints about debris on the sidewalk to a tenant in 2011 complaining about not having hot water in his unit. That complaint is the most recent listed in the city’s records.


Bert Stain said his brother, whom most people knew as Donnie, had lived in Portland for nearly all his life. He had been divorced for several years and didn’t work because he was physically disabled.

Their sister, Pam Larracey of Mechanic Falls, said her brother was “a very kind soul.”

“He would take the shirt off his back to be sure a homeless person had a clean, warm shirt. Whenever he could help anybody he would,” Larracey wrote in an email. “It didn’t matter if it was a total stranger or the lady next door in the apartment building, he would go out and shovel and help push people’s cars out of the yard when they got stuck in snow.”

Larracey said her brother would help his friends and acquaintances by picking up their prescriptions, by going to the grocery store to buy food for them, or by running an errand at the post office.

“Anything, anyone needed, Donnie was there,” she said.

Their mother, Rita Grace Stain, also lives in Portland.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

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