Reported by: Shannon Cake
RIVIERA BEACH, FL– Complaints are growing louder at one of Palm Beach County’s most well known subsidized housing districts.
Some residents who live at ‘Stonybrook Apartments’ in Riviera Beach are sharing stories about poor ventilation in their units and problems breathing.
“As of today, my daughter has chronic asthma and she has been hospitalized with meningitis. She’s had several viral and respiratory infections and the list goes on,” said Katisha Wall, a resident at the apartment complex.
She and other residents blame their problems on mold. Wall showed the Contact 5 Investigators a ceiling tile that was allegedly removed from her apartment by a maintenance worker.
“That’s mold right there,” Wall said, pointing to the tile she had wrapped in a plastic bag. “When the maintenance worker went to lunch, I went into his bucket and took this out. I took it and saved it to prove there is mold in my apartment.”
Wall’s housing is paid for with tax money. Families, too poor to afford their own rent, can apply for government assistance. When families are approved by the Housing and Urban Development Program, tax dollars are directed to pay for a majority of their accommodations.
Katisha Wall suggests taxpayers are now being forced to pay for her really sick children too.
“It’s constant. We’re always coughing, hacking, we have headaches all the time,” Wall said.
Wall blames her families’ health problems on mold and so does her daughter’s pediatrician.
“The doctor told us specifically that the mold is the reason why she’s continued to get sick,” Wall said while holding up a doctor’s note she suggested is proof. “They also said that if she is not removed from this environment it’s going to get worse.”
Living right next door to the Wall family is 1- year-old Marquan Smith and his older twin siblings Marion and Mariona.
All of the children have been prescribed breathing treatments. In a letter from their pediatrician the doctor wrote; these kids “have a lot of respiratory illnesses” and have developed “reactive airway disease or “asthma.”
Laquanna Smith, the children’s’ mother, presented medical records for News Channel 5 to review. They were blood tests that showed her youngest son, 1-year-old Marion, had been exposed to four different types of mold.
“We’ve been constantly using machine after machine, medicine after medicine since we moved in here,” said Smith.
She also blames her family’s health problems on mold that she believes is covering the inside of her walls.
The Contact Five Investigators requested copies of all health inspections performed at Stonybrook Apartments in Riviera Beach in the last two years.
Palm Beach County’s Health Department turned over two reports. One of them was an inspection performed in the Smith unit back in August of 2009.
The inspector commented on “mildew growth on metal window frames” “a bubbling and deteriorated window sill” as well as “stained baseboards.” He also mentioned high moisture areas “capable of supporting mold” and suggested that “exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects and allergic responses….especially in the young.”
The Investigators tried talking with the landlord at Stonybrook Apartments. Latasha Mitchell told us by phone: “It is our company’s policy. We do not release any comments or statements. Our residents are a private matter,” said Mitchell.
The Investigators also tried calling Stonybrook’s parent company, Summit Housing Partners. We wanted to inquire about general maintenance at Stonybrook Apartments, but our phone calls were not returned.
Laquanna Smith and Katisha Wall both admit Stonybrook managers did send cleanup crews to their units several times, but the women claim the workers simply painted over their problems. Now, the moms say, their children are paying the price.
“I want that little girl over there to be able to run free and not deal with this anymore. I want her to be healthy, be happy and I don’t want to have to deal with this no more,” said Wall.
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