Holland, MI — Angela Alexander knows what she needs to do to protect her family, even if it means tearing down her house.
Alexander discovered in July that her home at 13781 Barry St. was filled with mold, which she said explained why her seven children were constantly sick.
A local builder offered to tear down and rebuild a house for the family on the same property, but Alexander says the mortgage company has stalled the plans. To tear down the home, she needs their permission, she said.
“We can’t do anything,” she said. “The builder wanted to tear it down and do the foundation before winter, but now it’s December and it’s too late to start building.”
Reached this week by The Sentinel, a company representative said it agrees “in principle” with the Alexanders and hopes to have a resolution this coming week.
Meanwhile, the Alexanders are staying in a home provided by Neighbors Plus, a community development organization through Harderwyk Ministries. But Alexander knows she can’t shelter her family — which includes two sons and five daughters, ranging from 2 to 16 years old, as well as her husband, Allen — there forever.
“There’s nobody out there who can take in nine of us,” she said.
Before relocating in October, Alexander said her children were frequently missing school, coming down with a variety of respiratory problems.
Her 8-year-old son Caleb, who was diagnosed with asthma as a baby, had it the worst while they lived on Barry Street, she said.
“When we were in the house, he was having asthma attacks every other night,” she said. “The doctors were giving him medicine, but he wasn’t improving. After awhile he couldn’t stay in the house. He had to sleep over at my mom’s.”
Since moving, he’s had one attack in the last three months, Alexander said.
As for her other children, bloody noses, throat lesions and ear infections were almost daily occurrences in the house for at least two years, Alexander said. At times, she felt symptoms too, including dizziness and weight loss. In a three-month span, she unintentionally lost 40 pounds and was hospitalized.
On the suggestion of a nurse who visited the house, Alexander decided to have it inspected.
“They said it was up under the crawl space, all in the walls, attached to the wood,” she said. “All the rain we got last season made it really bad for us and triggered the kids to get really, really sick.”
Alexander began working with the Children’s Advocacy Center. A local builder, who asked to remain anonymous, stepped up to help, proposing to tear down and rebuild the home on higher ground.
But Alexander needed permission from her mortgage company.
“I’ve been calling them for five months. I knew I couldn’t pay for a house and a rental place at the same time, but they haven’t gotten back to us to tell us if we can tear this house down,” she said.
Meanwhile, Alexander said her credit cards are maxed out from paying medical bills and she won’t be able to make the December mortgage payment.
A representative for Alexander’s mortgage company says the company is not in disagreement with her.
Kristine Kline, vice president of marketing for the Mortgage Center out of Southfield, said the company is trying to reach a resolution.
“We have agreed in principle to what they are looking to do,” she said, adding that they are hoping to come up with a solution by next week.
“This is something we take seriously and we want to make sure we’re really making the right decision,” Kline said. “We certainly understand her sense of urgency.”
Copyright 2009 The Holland Sentinel. Some rights reserved.