The TMA On Mold – Could They Be Any More Corrupt Or Ignorant
Their comment on “The Texas Medical Association has done extensive research. Mold is an allergen, so it’s not a public health nuisance,” – “We don’t investigate that, but we do educate a lot of people about the mold.”, is a blatant example of the medical profession’s mind set that is literally killing people. If it was only an allergen, why don’t allergists know about it or how to treat it? How can they educate people with wrong information? Their statement is equivalent to saying the world is square. Perhaps it is not a nuisance. It goes much farther then that. It is a serious threat to human health and one of the most dangerous health hazards out there. Any element that literally affects every organ, tissue, and function of the human body should not be ignored or dismissed just for political and financial advantage. I guess they did not mean it when they took the oath and cited: “Will do no harm”. They must of thought it meant to do no harm to themselves and their pockets.
Building safety: City fights dilapidated housing – Various problems plague apartments
By Sean Thomas
Old Town Apartments in Amarillo looks like a favorite tagging ground for youths armed with spray paint. But if you look past the scrawl of purple scribblings, it starts to look more like complaints from residents. Spray-painted on one of the few windows not broken are the words ‘No Water.’
Paul Parker used to manage the 20-unit, two-story building for John Alexander. He said residents, forced to move out in July because of substandard conditions, were without hot water since the middle of June. Parker said the complex had many problems, including the gas being cut because the bill wasn’t paid and the boiler constantly breaking. Parker blamed much of the problems on Alexander, who in turn blamed it on Parker.
The city’s Building Safety Department was called once last year and three times in June about the failing building. Scott McDonald, the city’s building official, has started the condemnation process on the building. Alexander doesn’t plan to fight it.
“It’s just not worth it to me,” said Alexander, who along with city staff helped relocate residents of Old Town to other housing. “I’m doing everything in the world I can to get it done.”
Old Town’s issues aren’t unusual but rarely reach the level where the city condemns a building. Old Town, on Seventh Avenue just west of downtown, is the third apartment building condemned so far this year.
Since August 2008, Building Safety has received about 35 reports of substandard conditions in apartment complexes. Complaints are varied but reflect substandard if not dangerous living conditions, including stairs deteriorating, smoke alarms not working, water leaks around light fixtures, no heat and floors sinking.
Given that Amarillo has 130 complexes, the roughly 35 complaints to Building Safety in a year’s time might seem a modest number. But at the rate that new apartments are being built in the city, that number is expected to grow.
According to the 2009 Amarillo Housing Survey, the city has seen a consistent increase in the number of apartment units.
Since 2001, more than 2,800 units have been added. While the occupancy rate has steadily declined as new units are built, the survey cited a report from the National Apartment Association that found the number of renters nationwide increased to “an all-time high” last year and was the largest annual increase since 1965.
As new apartments are built, there’s a corresponding demand in services, such as those provided by Building Safety. But police also are kept busy, with a few addresses in particular need of attention.
One apartment complex in Amarillo tops the list for police when it came to calls for service.
Sungate apartments at 2727 S. Virginia St. has more than 200 units and in 2008 had about 385 calls for service. Disorderly conduct, theft, assault and burglary were the most common reasons police responded. So far this year, they’ve had about 245 calls for service.
Sungate is owned by B&H Sun Investments, and Brian Humpherys is listed as the registered agent for the company. Humpherys did not return calls left at Sungate or his home for comment.
Residents with concerns not being addressed by property owners do have options. The city’s Environmental Health Department handles complaints about sewage, standing water, swimming-pool issues and mold.
However, Deree Duke, director of the department, said the city only has standing if the issue presents a public health nuisance.
“We receive a lot of phone calls about mold, primarily because of the publicity it has received in recent years,” Duke said.
In 2007, the department received 18 calls for sewage and pool issues, only nine of which were found to be violations. Last year, it went up 15 calls that generated 11 violations. So far this year, the department has found at least six violations from eight complaints. Duke said mold issues often result in education for the renter and landowner rather than action by the city.
“The Texas Medical Association has done extensive research. Mold is an allergen, so it’s not a public health nuisance,” she said. “We don’t investigate that, but we do educate a lot of people about the mold.”
The Building Safety department handles more general complaints. The city has 15 inspectors who respond to complaints.
“Once we identify if there is a problem, we will write the notice of violation; then it can take multiple paths from that point,” McDonald said. “We will ultimately enforce the municipal code. … We can ultimately close a building if we need to. It depends on the level of risk for the occupants of the building.”
The Community Development Department also provides the Tenants’ Rights Handbook to better inform renters on what landlords are required to provide in Texas.
McDonald said enforcing the city codes and state laws is a balance with ensuring residents still have somewhere they can live.
“We are here to protect and serve those people. Evicting isn’t necessarily helping them,” he said. “Health, welfare and safety – all three of those are in the balance.”
Note – Information on Riverstone Residential knowingly exposing tenants to extreme amounts of mold toxins at Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. katy