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Washington Park tenants claim neglect from building management

Carla Mosley held a press conference along with fellow tenants of St. Edmunds Village Apartments in Washington Park on Thursday afternoon. The group, comprised of both former and current tenants, demanded the building’s management to respond to their needs for a better living environment. They claim building managers are neglecting tenants by not responding to mold developing in their apartment walls, following water damage from heavy rain.

“My baby has developed vocal tic disorder,” Mosley said. The doctor “said it’s due to the mold. I just want someone to come in and fix the problem.”

Mosley has lived in her apartment for 15 months and says the molding problem has become a nightmare for her and her 5-year-old daughter. She first noticed the molding on the baseboards of her apartment but realized there was molding behind her walls when a mushroom pushed through one of her walls.

She notified the building’s management of the problems she was having in her apartment, and building management finally replaced the wall Thursday afternoon.

“Every day I asked them to put me in another apartment,” Mosley said. “They tell me they do not have the authorization to do so. The only managers who can is on vacation. I couldn’t even get them to look at my apartment.”

She said she was told by the maintenance person, when they were able to open the wall, they found eight garbage bags filled with trash that was sitting behind her apartment walls. Mosley also lived in her apartment for two days with the wall exposed before they were able to put a new wall up. She said they left the wall exposed and failed to properly cover it.

The maintenance person who discovered the garbage bags refused to be interviewed for this story.

Janet Wilson was the former president of the St. Edmunds’ tenant association and lived in the building for 14 years until she decided it was best for her to move in 2014. She said these issues are common with this building.

“Mold, rodents, leaking windows, it’s horrible because it smells like a dead body in here,” Wilson said. “When I was here, there were other people in other apartments having the same issue.”

Although Wilson is no longer living in St. Edmunds, she still remains a point of contact for a lot of current tenants. She said she helps tenants find resources when they run into issues with the management and helps to lodge complaints.

Camika Craig, also a former tenant of St. Edmunds, lived in the building for 15 months and left in 2015. She said she left because of the water damage that followed days of heavy rain.

“Like, if it rained a few days, I would have bugs flying and biting my child,” Craig said. “My tiles would crack because the concrete would be saturated due to the rain.”

She also said she presented her issues with building management, and they told her to get renters insurance to cover her damages.

“I have a low-income, section 8, how can I afford rental insurance?” Craig said.

Ron Gatton looks over an open work order from tenant Carla Mosley at St. Edmunds Village Apartments on June 28, 2018. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

“We encourage rental insurance for everyone,” said Ron Gatton of Gilead Management, the management team at St. Edmunds. “I can assure you we never told anyone they should get it because of mold.”

Gatton said it is their responsibility to handle issues with mold, and not the responsibility of the tenant. He also said one of the reasons they encourage rental insurance is for tenants’ own protection when it comes to theft in the building.

He was also unaware of the particular problem with Mosley and believed his staff has been handling it to the best of their abilities.

“We’ve been responding to [Mosley’s] complaint which came last week,” Gatton said.

However, work orders confirmed with St. Edmunds show the first complaint came May 21, 2018.

Gatton also pushed back on the group of tenants’ claims of neglect.

“We are proud of our maintenance record,” Gatton said. “Our experience that those complaints are occasionally legitimate, they are occasionally due to some beef we have with an individual tenant either a nonpayment of rent or particularly if we have barred one of their relatives or boyfriends.”

Although Mosley’s wall has been replaced, she is not confident her issues with the building management will stop. She is also still concerned for her daughter whose problem, she strongly believes, was a result of the molded walls.

“I care less about them replacing this wall, my main concern is my baby who is suffering from vocal tic disorder,” Mosley said walking through her eighth-floor apartment.