Mold Under The Mistletoe

This Christmas Eve, not everyone is enjoying traditional holiday smells. There’s mold under the mistletoe at one South Florida apartment complex. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.

WSVN — Dr. Kennedy Homes in Fort Lauderdale is an affordable housing complex on Sunrise Boulevard. It looks very nice from the outside, but inside we found something ugly going on: mold growing on everything from purses to furniture to clothing.

Carmel Cafiero: “This is no way to live, is it?”

Chanel Charlton: “Oh, it’s terrible, the smell, it’s terrible.”

Chanel Charlton lives in the infested apartment with her two children. She says after she first complained, management tried to clean things up, but the mold came back.

Chanel Charlton: “They came in with some, like, Clorox wipe and wiped off the door panels and all of that, and OK. Probably like, two weeks later, my daughter was like, ‘Mom, did you see the stuff behind my bed? Behind my dresser?'”

This might look like marble, but it’s actually mold on the back of that dresser. Chanel says she complained again, but months went by, and she never got a response from management.

Chanel Charlton: “Why is it taking so long? Especially when I done said that my kids have asthma.”

Next door, another apartment and another mold problem.

Laketia Hart: “I paid my rent faithfully, uh-huh.”

Laketia Hart lived in this apartment with her daughter and infant grandson. They moved out shortly after this video was taken. There was mold on the furniture and throughout the apartment. Laketia is recovering from several strokes not related to the mold, but says she now has sinus problems.

Carmel Cafiero: “Did you have sinus problems before the mold started growing in your apartment?”

Laketia Hart: “No.”

Both Laketia and Chanel say they had no idea what kind of mold was growing in their homes, so 7News took samples from both apartments and brought them to PRO-LAB in Weston for analysis.

James McDonnell: “We get thousands of samples per day from all over the United States, and some of them are really bad.”

The samples from Dr. Kennedy Homes revealed problems.

John Shane, Ph.D., PRO-LAB: “An abundance of Aspergillus. We would not count this because we would count in the millions. Aspergillus is not healthy. Aspergillus is a disease causing mold, but it also causes allergies and triggers asthma.”

In another sample, more Aspergillus, and this time also Penicillium.

John Shane: “The really insidious thing about Aspergillus and Penicillium spores is that they’re very, very tiny, so they get deep into the lungs, and they’re so many here that just by walking around, opening and closing the doors, causes these spores to get into the air.”

We shared the findings with the renters. They’re now concerned about the possible impact to their families’ health.

Carmel Cafiero: “Fort Lauderdale’s Housing Authority recently took over management of the complex. The CEO told me there are between six and eight units with mold issues.”

No one from the Housing Authority would talk on camera, but they say the mold problems are being addressed and the apartments will be cleaned up. It’s too late for Laketia’s family, but the housing authority moved Chanel and her family to a hotel shortly after our interview. Her apartment is now being cleaned. She’s hoping the new year will bring more than a breath of fresh air.

Carmel Cafiero, 7News.


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