Single mom living with mushrooms, mold growing in HUD-subsidized Burlington apartment

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- "I literally have mushrooms growing on my second floor," said Tawana Crawford. "Out of the floor. No soil for them to grow on or anything, they're just growing through the tile."

For the past several months, mushrooms and mold have been some of Crawford's unwanted roommates in her four-bedroom Burlington apartment off Beaumont Avenue.

"When you have issues like mushrooms, and your ceiling is missing, you know it goes to the point of when do you care about my safety, my kids safety, or anything like that?" she said.

Crawford has three young kids living in the home, recently taking one to the doctor only to find her son has respiratory issues from mold exposure.

She believes the issue creating all this comes from her tub drain upstairs. She's put in maintenance requests over the past year, with folks coming every now and then to try and fix it. The most recent fix happened in May when plumbers opened a hole in her kitchen ceiling to address the pipes causing a leak. The hole was never patched up.

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Crawford had several maintenance forms from Beaumont Apartments with incomplete information. She says only two men work maintenance for the entire complex, which has roughly 100 units. She says they're great people, but are overworked.

Wednesday Crawford called Burlington code enforcement, who did a minimum housing inspection, and deemed the home did not reach those standards. Mold is actually not included in those standards under city ordinance, but things that cause mold, like water damage or leaks, are.

The apartments are privately owned by a company called PK Management based in the Cleveland area. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, subsidizes a majority of the units in the complex, giving PK Management about $780,000 a year in rent. No one was in the manager's office throughout the day Tuesday and Wednesday when FOX8 was looking for an interview.

Crawford says management has turned over several times in the four years she has been living at the complex and points that out as a factor in these work orders slipping through the cracks.

"We're placed here, this is subsidized housing so some of which, this is all that some people can afford," Crawford said. "So just to tell them that they don't matter and their way of living doesn't matter means a lot because technically that's what you're saying if you're not getting out here and fixing the issues at all."

A representative from PK Management told FOX8 they have since been in touch with Crawford, after requests for information about the situation, and sent crews to address the problem. Within minutes, Crawford says the hole in her ceiling had been patched up, and they are sending contractors tomorrow to deal with the root issues.

A representative from HUD says they are "closely monitoring the progress of these efforts as well to ensure that residents are living in a safe and healthy environment."

If you live in HUD subsidized housing in North Carolina, you're encouraged to reach out to North Carolina Quadel at (919) 319-0808 if you have a problem similar to Crawford's. They're contracted with HUD to specifically work with property managers about resident's concerns in a timely manner.

"I feel better," Crawford said. "I feel like now something is actually starting to happen. So without a shadow of a doubt, I appreciate FOX8 news 100% for getting the ball rolling and getting things done."

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