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PORT RICHEY, Fla. — One Pasco County woman who is disabled said her apartment has mold issues and she fears she will be homeless in months to come.
Doreen Kelsey is disabled and lives with her son who is also disabled.
“My son is 36 and disabled. I am 58 and disabled,” Kelsey stated.
The two are living in Hudson Ridge Apartments in Port Richey. They moved in December 2021. Kelsey said they noticed mold issues in the apartment due to an overwhelming smell.
“The smell on certain days in this house is overpowering where you are waking up at three in the morning sick to your stomach,” Kelsey explained.
Since Kelsey is disabled, she receives government assistance with Section 8 housing. The housing choice voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Kelsey said she’s contacted Pasco County Housing and HUD to address her mold concerns.
HUD told 10 Tampa Bay Pasco County Housing was addressing the issue.
“Thank you for bringing this situation to our attention. It is being addressed by Pasco Housing Authority directly with the landlord and the tenant,” an HUD spokesperson said in a statement.
10 Tampa Bay then reached out to see how Pasco County Housing was assisting.
Jeff Sklet who is the Deputy Director for Pasco County Housing said officials have been working with Kelsey to address the issue. Sklet sent 10 Tampa Bay several reports about apartment inspections.
On June 8, Hudson Ridge Apartments had an independent company come out to inspect Kelsey’s apartment. That report detailed samples were taken, but the inspector didn’t find elevated moisture and the air results were satisfactory. The inspector did notice fungal growth on the HVAC unit, however there were recommendations to clean it.
On June 15, another inspection was done, but this time by Pasco County Housing. This inspection failed due to interior air quality. The inspector said they didn’t find mold, but did smell an unidentifiable odor.
This is the same odor Kelsey said she has been smelling for months. She worries about the smell because she said her son has been sick.
“January 17th to March 27th my son had been hospitalized five times with lung issues,” Kelsey said. “As well as going into respiratory failure twice.”
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On June 28, Kelsey’s apartment was re-inspected and that inspector worked on her HVAC system.
Kelsey said that happened, but the problem persisted.
“The smell is still here. Nothing is being done,” Kelsey said.
Pasco County Housing plans to reinspect Kelsey’s apartment on July 13 to see the repairs made.
Kelsey said she worried the smell will kill her son because he experiences respiratory issues.
“Do we stay and live with this God awful smell or is it going to end up killing my son or me?” Kelsey questioned.
Pasco County Housing officials told 10 Tampa Bay Kelsey will have to vacate the unit. They will give her 120 days to find a new place, but the relocation fees are her responsibility. Kelsey said she doesn’t have the money to move and fears she will lose her assistance.
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10 Tampa Bay reached out to Richman Property Service Inc. to see how they are assisting Kelsey, but have not yet received a response.
Kelsey said she is struggling to find an apartment that meets Section 8 requirements because of rising rent costs.
“The state won’t do anything, the federal government won’t do anything and neither will the complex or the corporation,” Kelsey said.
The 58-year-old woman fears she will be living out of her car with her son and dog.
“I really don’t want to spend the next 20 years living in my car and that’s a high probability,” Kelsey pleaded.
Kelsey said she has tried every avenue to get help.
“I don’t know what to do and I don’t know where to turn,” Kelsey stated. “I have an entire notebook filled with numbers and I can’t seem to get any help. I don’t know what to do for us.”
Kelsey would like a new HVAC unit or assistance to move somewhere else. Pasco County Housing said if her inspection fails she will need to vacate and the moving costs will be for her to pay.
10 Tampa Bay plans to follow up with Pasco County Housing after the inspection on July 13 to see the results.
RELATED: How to handle mold concerns in low-income housing
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