WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A Winston-Salem city council member is offering assistance to property owners for them to provide a permanent solution to what some tenants say is recurring mold at their apartment complex. Meanwhile, owners and managers at La Deara Crest Apartments say they’ve fixed these issues and there is no problem with mold whatsoever at the complex.
The City of Winston-Salem confirms a “mold-like substance” was found at units at the apartment complex both in August and October and “mold-like or mildew conditions” were found in the crawl space of a building in January. The city reports that all three of those cases have been resolved as of now.
A resident who does not want to be identified says the mold comes back every time she cleans it off. She says that she has been dealing with this issue for the three years she’s lived at the apartment complex. She says the mold forms on her window sills and door frames. “I do it all the time. I’m a clean person, I’m a neat freak so I do it all the time. So maybe like five times a month or four times a month,” said the resident? “Immediately, maybe a day or two,” the resident responded when asked how long it takes for the substance to come back.
Yolanda Pinkney is another resident at the apartment complex. She says that she has had mold in her apartment for the last few months. “What they had been doing was telling the residents to clean it up themselves. They have been coming with Clorox and trying to cover it up,” said Pinkney. Pinkney also says the mold has made her nine-year-old daughter sick. “My daughter will never be the same,” Pinkney said. “She has an asthma inhaler. She has a spacer. And she has to take allergy medicine now.” Pinkney also says mold in her unit has made her sick. “Some days I wake up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and I can’t breathe,” said Pinkney.
City of Winston-Salem inspection documents (provided below) show that a “mold like substance” was found during inspections of units in August 2018 and October 2018. Another document from the City of Winston-Salem shows that “mold like or mildew conditions” were found in the crawl space under Pinkney’s apartment building in January 2019, but no mold was found in her unit. City officials say all of those problems have since been resolved and there are no active reports of mold in the apartment complex at this time.
However, Pinkney says she is not convinced the problem has been solved. “I told them they had a problem. They had a big problem and it was bigger than the window sills,” Pinkney said.
In October, Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke, a city council member representing the district which the La Deara Crest Apartments are located, held a meeting with the property owners, property managers and tenants of the complex. She says she was informed by tenants about problems with mold, drainage and leaking pipes.
“It appears it’s become major concerns now,” said Council Member Burke. Council Member Burke says she recently sent a letter to the property owners requesting they use a loan from the city to make more lasting repairs to the property. “We’ll look into these units and if they’re not livable then we will close them up if we don’t meet a certain standard.”
City officials did not provide a timetable as to when the apartment complex must make these repairs.
Abe Beroukha, a Co-Owner of A & Y Properties, LLC, which owns La Deara Crest Apartments, says while his company plans to use a city loan to restore the property, mold is not an issue at La Deara Crest Apartments. “We have checked all the units and we have checked the property. At this time we do not have any mold or any issue with mold at this time. There is no mold in this property,” said Beroukha. “We take mold very seriously. As soon as we see any evidence of mold we fix it immediately. We have some of the units which have mildew, it’s not mold. There is mildew on the windows of some of the units and as soon as someone reports it, we fix it but it’s not mold.”
Maintenance personnel at the apartment complex say they have not received any complaints of mold. They say if they did, they would have addressed the problem. Instead, they say residents went directly to the city to request an inspection, thus slowing the process for resolving any possible issues with mold. “If there are people who do not report it then there is nothing we can do about it,” Beroukha said. “If there is any evidence of mold we take care of it immediately.”
Beroukha did not provide a timeline as to when the repairs would be made. He says there will be repairs to the drainage and plumbing in the building and some window sills will be replaced. He also says that crime has been reduced in this area in recent years and there are now more programs for local youth, which demonstrates that the owners of La Deara Crest Apartments are dedicated to making this part of Winston-Salem a better place for everyone. “We are doing a great service to this community and to the City of Winston-Salem. We have turned this property around 360 degrees,” said Beroukha. “Most of our tenants happy and we are providing a decent and safe affordable housing to all of our tenants and we are glad to do that and I think we have done a great service to this community.”
A local restoration company says some mold can just be cleaned off and some mold requires entire walls to be torn down. However, they say the only way to know for sure is to inspect each unit in the apartment. The city only inspects units upon request.
Written by Steve King, Reporter for WSXII Channel 12 in Winston-Salem, NC