I-TEAM : Rodent sightings prompt code enforcement complaints at Brentwood public housing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a resident reached out about a rodent infestation in her Brentwood Lakes public housing unit, the News4JAX I-TEAM found there has been a recent uptick in complaints about rodents at the apartment complex.

In Destinae Fields’ unit Wednesday, the I-TEAM observed droppings throughout the unit, including in her kitchen cabinets and under the stovetop burners, as well as dead mice caught in traps. She said the issue has been ongoing for eight months, with rodents being caught in traps daily. Rodent droppings are also visible near crevices where it appears rodents have chewed through the walls.

Fields also said she had to replace her sofa and bed.

“As soon as I went to grab the pillow, the mice went literally underneath the cushion itself,” Fields said. “I stayed up all night. I’ve been up all night.”

She said she’s stopped storing food in the house and now barely cooks.

She’s worried about her two young kids living here, as well as her baby due January 8.

“It’s rat droppings on my baby’s sock that I had to take out of my room,” she said, picking up the tiny pink booties dotted with feces.

“The crib had rat pellets in it,” Fields said.

Records from the city show there have been five code enforcement complaints for the Brentwood Lakes Apartments in November and December. Four of those involved rodents in units. Fields’ case is the only one that remains open. Previously, code enforcement had received four complaints about Brentwood Lakes from January of 2021 through October of 2022.

Last Wednesday, management reported new traps had been placed in Fields’ unit twice and that pest control had treated it within the past two weeks.

According to a media relations specialist working for the Jacksonville Housing Authority, which owns and operates Brentwood Lakes apartments, Fields first complained to JHA about the rodents in November, and crews have since been out to treat the problem five times. They also said Fields had been cited for the unit’s condition multiple times, including for leaving food out. But she says she hasn’t kept food here for months.

The housing authority also told the I-TEAM they’ve recently put bait stations for rodents around the perimeter of the complex.

Fields says another pest control treatment is scheduled for early January– three days before her baby is due.

“[I’m] worried sick now because its like I’m in my last trimester. I’ve got maybe two or three maybe weeks left in my pregnancy…and I’m already trying to find somewhere else to move for me and my kids,” she said.

An official with the Jacksonville Housing Authority said there’s nowhere to move Fields because there are 117,000 people on waiting lists for public housing in Duval County right now. They said providing sanitary living conditions is their priority, and they are following up with the manager about the conditions at Fields’ unit.

About the Author:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter