Moldy walls, mushrooms in carpet found in ETx complex

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Bobbie Day is, 62, has lived at 1806 West Oakwood in Tyler for several years.  But, for the past week, she's been in a local hospital bed.

"She's having seizures, headaches, abdominal pain and rashes," said Courtney Day, her son.

Courtney is just one of the Day siblings who came into town after their mother had to be hospitalized.  Tuesday afternoon, the siblings discovered a hidden guest behind the walls of Bobbie's apartment--a wall of mold.

"I don't know if that had anything to do with it, but it doesn't look good," said Patrick Day, Bobbie's oldest son.

The wall of mold was found beneath the paneling in one of the bedrooms.

We're told a maintenance worker removed the paneling after the siblings notified the landlord.

"I would imagine they might find more," said Mark Ellis, a community hygiene inspector with the Texas Department of State Health Services.

"[Mold] is an indoor air problem, and it can cause breathing problems, coughing, allergy type symptoms, and things like that," Ellis explained.

A City of Tyler housing service inspector was also called in for a special inspection.

The city told us more than half of Bobbie's monthly rent - $700, all bills paid - is government-subsidized through the city's Housing Payment Assistance Program.  Under the program, Bobbie's apartment, along with the immediate hallways, walkways, and areas surrounding it are inspected once a year to ensure they meet the government's minimum housing quality standards.

We are told Bobbie's apartment was routinely inspected last October.  Violations were found, but were later found corrected during a follow-up visit.  Under the assistance program, property owners are bound by a contract to correct the violations, or the government withholds its portion of the rent.

Wednesday's special emergency check resulted in numerous violations; the air conditioning was out, there was too much debris in the unit and, of course, the possibility of the mold were all noted by inspectors after Ms. Day's children called.

"We don't want to get into a habit of telling families where they can and can't live," said Andy Davis, the city's housing manager.  "It's their choice."  But Davis said he always recommends  families find places beyond the minimum standards.  Davis said that this was the first time any complaints were made about Bobbie's unit, specifically, but said complaints have been made from within the community about the whole property.

One apartment was unsecured, across the hall from Ms. Day's unit--we're told that is a violation of the housing quality standards.  We found mushrooms growing from the carpet which was soaking wet.

Virginia Kennedy was named as the property owner.  We visited her in her Tyler home.  she declined an on-camera interview, but said she was unaware of the mold situation until she was called Tuesday. She said she owns at least 40 properties throughout the city, most of them single-family homes.  The two buildings in Bobbie's complex are the only apartments she said she owns. Kennedy also said each of the units in Ms. Day's building were renovated and refurbished, but not Ms. Day's unit.  Kennedy said Day would not allow crews inside to work on the home.  Kennedy also said she is working to correct the issues at the apartment.

"We couldn't let [mom] come back to this," said Patrick Day.  "This is unacceptable and it's not fair."

The city of Tyler said Kennedy has 24 hours from the time of the special inspection report was made to find a licensed mold removal specialist and properly correct the problem.

The city also said it does not have a "property maintenance code." Renters who have safety or health concerns can contact the building inspections department inside the city's development services office at 903.531.1151.

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