Action Report: Mold issue in Gulfport apartment - - The News for South Mississippi

Action Report: Mold issue in Gulfport apartment


Anna Pollard and her boyfriend Justin Ram were living in the Hartford View Apartments on 8th Avenue in Gulfport. Ram said he suffered an asthma attack one night, his first asthma attack since he was a child.

"I started getting sick, starting showing a lot of signs and symptoms that something was starting to affect me," Ram said.

Ram said he opened up an air vent and discovered what looked like black mold. He says he also found the same substance in the air conditioning vent and an electrical outlet.

He said he notified Hartford View Apartments Manager Joyce Todd.

"We let her know about everything, but she kept saying it was mildew. All they did was come over there and just spray bleach. And after the bleach dried, they sprayed painted over it with paint trying to cover it up."

Pollard said Todd offered the couple a dehumidifier, but said that wouldn't clean up the black substance.

"I called the city. I called the courthouse, the different courthouses, and they all said they couldn't do anything about it," Pollard said. "Saying that it's a private property, so they couldn't send anyone to help us."

I contacted manager Joyce Todd who told me that when there is an issue, they take steps to clean up the problem. I was then told to leave the property and not to talk with any of the Hartford View Apartment residents.

A couple of days later, I began getting video of the apartment complex from across the street. Todd approached me and wanted to know if I was filming the complex.

"I also told you to stay off our property," said Todd.

When I asked if I was on her property, she replied, "No, but I don't think you have permission to film us. I'm talking to the city."

I asked her if I could see the apartment in question.

"I am not able to deny, confirm. And will not due to the protection of my residents, because they are all important to us."

When I asked if she could give me the complex owner's name and phone number she said, "Absolutely not. Absolutely not."

I also contacted the Gulfport Building Code office and was told to get in touch with the Gulfport building inspector. I was then told to contact the Mississippi State Department of Health.

"State agencies can't take any action or enforcement of black mold in an apartment unit because it's on private property," a spokesman with the Mississippi State Department of Health said.

Gulfport Public Information Officer Chris Vignes said local residents can now contact the city for help with any apartment issues.

"From there we'll bring in our findings and work it into our systems. And then if there's something that needs to be resolved or fixed, we contact the business or property owner," said Vignes.

Pollard and Ram have since moved out of the apartment.

Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel told me his city uses what is called the International Property Maintenance Code.

"Under that code, our inspectors who are called out to an apartment complex for a mold issue can characterize it as an unsafe, unsanitary condition," said Creel.

Creel said they can't determine if it's mold or not, but can put the property owner on notice that there are unsanitary conditions and the burden to clean it falls on the them.

"After we write them up with an unsanitary condition, the owner must have the mold issue inspected and a test done. He must come back and prove that the unsanitary condition is not mold."

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