For years, some of the apartment complex’s residents have complained of black mold, and now dozens of disabled and elderly occupants are being forced to move on short notice. The affected units are owned by Navigate Affordable Housing Partners, which oversees housing contracts for the federal government, including 144 units at Spring Gardens.
“I was told two weeks ago I had to move because of mold,” said one disabled tenant, who wished to remain anonymous.
“Not the dangerous type I’m told, but to move nonetheless…Ten days later I’m told I am moving the next day, which was a Thursday. I am moved on a Friday and on Monday I am told I have to move again because of air quality issues. I am disabled and tired at this point, and am being shuffled like a prisoner from place to place.”
Housing officials say the Jefferson County complex first discovered mold, termite infestations, and structural problems in 2013, some of which have been resolved.
“We want our tenants and the public to know that the Housing Authority’s No. 1 priority is providing a safe environment for our residents,” said Jane Bailey, chairman of the Jefferson County Housing Authority, which also manages units in the complex.
Elderly or disabled tenants could be more susceptible to health problems caused by airborne mold. They can also face extra difficulties moving on their own, especially if they’re one of the 26% of moving Americans who have no extended family members who live within driving distance. In 2015, the average price of a move was almost $4,000, although Spring Garden tenants won’t have to pay for their own relocation.
Although Navigate and the Housing Authority say the mold problem has been addressed, some residents say they have been left wondering where to get boxes for moving.
Navigate said in a statement: “After the Jefferson County Housing Authority — the then-property manager of Spring Garden’s II, III and IV, which are owned by Navigate — raised the prospect of mold-related issues, we worked with them to ensure that resident health and safety were not compromised.”