AUSTIN, Texas — Months after moving out of apartments that were said to have been damaged in February's deadly winter storm, tenants of a South Austin complex said repairs are still not safely completed.
On Wednesday, those residents at Rosemont at Oak Valley off Pleasant Valley Road and tenants rights group, BASTA, or Building and Strengthening Tenant Action, claim testing show moisture and mold still present in at least two units.
One of the apartments tested was done in Britany Garza's apartment last week.
"I do not know if the work they did will prevent my daughter from getting sick again," Garza said.
Garza is worried 2-year-old Adrieana may get sick again if they return to Rosemont.
The mother of three said her youngest fell ill earlier this year because of the mold discovered in her apartment.
Her family was one of 87 who moved out in the summer so crews could make repairs from what the complex representatives said were caused by February's deadly winter storms.
"All they were telling anybody was that it was from the winter storm but I had no effect from the winter storm except for the fact that I lost power and my food started going bad," Garza said.
BASTA has been helping residents since July when the 87 families received leave termination notices.
It hired a mold remediation company and tested Garza's apartment and another in October. Those tests discovered moisture and in both units.
Shoshana Krieger is the Project Director with BASTA.
"Today, we're here to shine (a) light on the fact that SHFC is trying to sweep all this under the rug and continuing to say trust us, trust us, trust us, yet reality says something different," Krieger said.
Rosemont is an affordable housing complex owned by Travis County and run by its nonprofit arm, the Strategic Housing and Finance Corporation (SHFC).
SHFC released a statement on Wednesday, which reads in part, "SHFC hired bonded and insured contractors to ameliorate moisture levels in the affected units [...] and believe that health and safety concerns have been remedied."
A spokesperson also sent an email with multiple attachments: a letter sent to residents, the unit acceptance acknowledgement form, the apartment's certificate of completion, a "scope of work" form, an inspection report, a SRP Inspection Log for one of the units, a Microbiology Clearance Report for that same unit and a press release announcing that residents could return to their units.
Residents, like Garza, and BASTA aren't buying that.
"I want them to be accountable for everything, go back in there and make sure, even if they have to dry the mold, dry the moisture. Get rid of it," Garza said.
BASTA and Garza also said SHFC is pressuring residents to sign leases with or without all the repairs properly done, a tactic they don't agree with.
But time and options are running out for residents. Garza said she will have to move back in soon.
KVUE reached out to Travis County Judge Andy Brown and County Commissioners Brigid Shea and Margaret Gomez, all who were previously involved and have prior knowledge of the Rosemont issue.
Brown gave this statement:
"For many residents of Rosemont, this has been a ridiculously difficult year. I expect SHFC to do all it can to ensure families can return home safely by the holidays and ensure no family is displaced when we are all focused on gathering with those we love. The Travis County Commissioners Court has taken every concern raised by the tenants seriously and we continue to do so.“
Margaret Gomez, Travis County Commissioner, Pct. 4, gave this statement:
“The Travis County Commissioners Court made it clear to SHFC that the Residents of Rosemont deserve to live in safe homes. We expect SHFC to keep their end of the agreed terms.”
Brigid Shea, Travis County Commissioner, Pct. 2, gave this statement:
“The Travis County Commissioners Court continues to work with the residents of Rosemont and I am concerned with these new allegations regarding the conditions of their homes. SFHC needs to do right by their tenants and make certain they are returning to safe homes.”
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