May 14, 2010
To make a complaint at some of the nation’s public housing complexes often puts the tenant at risk of retaliation. Federal and state law prohibit retaliation by landlords and public housing agencies, but that hasn’t stopped many agencies of going after tenants who complain. There are subtle, fiendish and obvious ways of retaliation.
Several residents of an elderly high rise in my hometown came to me with a problem. Their apartment complexes were infested with bedbugs and management was ignoring them. The director of the local housing authority allegedly told a tenant that it would be too costly to treat the apartments for the infestation. The situation had been going on for over a year.
Residents say the housing authority is run like a Gestapo camp. The employees have to sign a no-disclosure form and the board is reportedly intimidated as well. Residents say they believe they are being warehoused and treated like cattle, not people. And now, we’ve learned that complainers risk retaliation, in very nasty ways.
The bedbug infestation reportedly went on for more than a year, until one of the adult children of a resident went to the local health department. Two others contacted a local reporter who worked for a black newspaper. After the story was published, other media jumped on it. The local director said she was misquoted, but did begin ‘treating the apartments’ after the reporter began inquiries.
Residents of the elderly apartment towers say relations between management and tenants are hostile. What happened next will astound you.
One of the sources, whose activism makes her a thorn in the side of administration, now says someone has entered her apartment and has planted bedbugs in retaliation. Now, lest you shake your head, the coincidence is just too cute for this to be ‘happenstance.’
Less than 3 days after the story appeared, someone entered the apartment with a pass key. The whistleblower knows this because her apartment is cluttered and she lives alone. She paid no attention to the entry, believing that it was just a routine inspection.
Her mattress is an expensive sleep system and is less than a year old. Several days after the entry, she says she noticed bite marks on her arm. Now she has an arm full of bites and is wracking her brain about what to do. The number of bedbugs and their sizes leads one to believe that they were planted, and she is at her wit’s end.
Diagnosed as clinically depressed, she struggles to form a plan of action. When you are indigent, disabled and elderly, you are vulnerable. Particularly if you have no relatives in town for support.
Around the nation, public housing residents who complain often face retaliation. Take the case of a Texas double amputee, for instance.
A ParisTexasdisabled man living in public housing has expressed concerns for his safety following complaints to the local housing authority about mold in his apartment. Bobby Yates, a double-amputee living in George Wright Homes, now asserts that the Paris Housing Authority may be retaliating against him due to his retaining assistance from Lone Star Legal Aid about his living conditions. (WiredPRNews.com)
All across the country, fading revenues and the move to privatize public housing are pressuring local housing authorities. The competition for money, rising costs of operation, drug and alcohol abuse in the complexes are real challenges for administrators.
Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry
“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer
Information on Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana continuing to allow tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of mold toxins
Irrefutable evidence indicates that Riverstone Residential, Guarantee Service Team of Professionals, & plaintiffs’ attorney, J Arthur Smith III, must have agreed to exclude evidence that would have shown the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments & Riverstone Residential had knowledge of the severe MOLD INFESTATION at the complex before we moved in