Apartment residents threaten suits over black mold

Apartment complexes in Arlington, Biltmore not fixing problems, residents say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People living in two local apartment complexes are threatening to sue a federal agency because they say the government-subsidized housing is full of toxic black mold.

The claims are being made at the Oakwood Villa apartments off Kona Avenue in Arlington and the La Estracia apartments off Shenandoah Avenue in the Biltmore area.

A woman who lives in Oakwood Villa told News4Jax that she and her young child are constantly sick because of the mold in the apartment. She said they have complained and tried to get the problem fixed, but that hasn't happened. Now, she's ready to take it one step further.

"HUD is responsible to make sure that these people are in a safe, healthy, livable apartment," said Robert Barnhill of Bernard Daily Lawfirm.

Barnhill works for the firm that plans to file the lawsuit. He said the apartments should not be leased in these conditions.

"These places are not habitable," Barnhill said. "I'm talking about roaches, rain coming inside these apartments."

A spokesman for the Oakwood Villa apartments said they recently bought the complex and inherited a lot of issues, including mold, which he said they are trying to take care of as quickly as possible. At the La Estracia apartments, another government-subsidized complex, one resident said he has the same problem.

"It's unsanitary," Ronald Higgins said. "Here you've got mold. When it rains, water comes in under the window. You've got mold that comes."

And he said his health is suffering because of it.

"I've got asthma. I've got respiratory problems, but they don't care. They don't care," Higgins said. "It should have been done before they even put human beings in there. A lot of times they already knew it was there."

The manager of the La Estracia apartments hung up when News4Jax called seeking comment.

A spokesperson for the state Housing and Urban Development office said that the agency is looking into the residents' claims.