Our client Ms. Nelson shares her experience living in deplorable conditions–and getting help from Standing with Our Neighbors.
I’d been in Forest Cove for 18 years.
The apartment had mold all the way through. Every time it rained, water came through the window sill. The floors caved in. The downstairs closet had mold. The air conditioner leaked water into the closet. It messed up all of my personal things.
I dealt with rats and mice coming in, roaches throughout the whole apartment. It was just deplorable. And when we asked for repairs, they came in and did a half job, patching up things, and then they’d get worse. The sewage backed up all over my floors — not one time, but maybe four or five times while I was living there. The piping was clogged all the time. Other people’s feces would back up into my unit, onto my floors, mess up my things.
Last year I got tired. I heard about AVLF through Thomasville Heights Elementary when I started working there.
And I dealt with that for 18 years. It was horrible. They would threaten us if we would try to go out and try to seek help.
Last year I got tired. I heard about AVLF through Thomasville Heights Elementary when I started working there. At first I was scared because I didn’t want to get put out–but it got to the point where I couldn’t stay there anymore. My ceiling fell in. I had a hole in my ceiling for like six years. They had the wires from my AC unit exposed running on my bedroom floor.
When I met Mr. Pierce, he walked me through the process. He assured me that everything would be okay–and it was. But the process was scary, getting them to come in and do the remediation for the mold.
I was on pins and needles trying to figure out–am I going to have a place to stay with my kids?
When [maintenance] came in and gutted out my walls and windows and closet, it got to the point where you could literally see outside of my unit. At this point, it got really serious — at least I had a roof over my head before. But I told Pierce I can’t do it. Either they get me a hotel, or just move me.
And that whole process was a hassle to get a roof over my head for me and my kids. Basically I was homeless, to be honest with you, until they extended the stay at the hotel. I was on pins and needles trying to figure out–am I going to have a place to stay with my kids?
We had to move my furniture from one storage unit to another because the owner of the storage unit found out that I had lived in that apartment complex and literally put my stuff on the street that night. We had to leave my furniture on the movers’ truck overnight and get approval for another storage unit. The process was horrible–but Mr. Pierce worked things out, did what he was supposed to do on his end. He was there through the whole process. He didn’t give up one minute. He assured me that things were going to be okay and that I would find a place to stay.
I had been on the waitlist for another apartment for 15 years.
The process was scary–when someone else has your life in their hands. I can’t stress that enough.
That was my 18 years in Forest Cove apartments. Trash always outside around the dumpsters; the grass hadn’t been cut in years. The apartments’ foundation is breaking off as we speak. Anything could live inside the walls. You can hear things crawling in the walls. I had rats coming down from the ceiling into my living room, you know? So that was my life for eighteen years.
As a result of Mr. Pierce representing me, they cleaned up a new unit on the other side of the apartment complex. But I am disabled, so I can’t walk up a bunch of steps. I told them I didn’t want to move to the other side of the complex.
I had been on the waitlist for another apartment for 15 years, and it just so happened that the woman called me and told me that my name came up on the list. So in the midst of me staying in a hotel, this apartment came through. It’s better, and I was able to move into this place after Mr. Pierce helped me resolve my case. It’s better living. I’ve been here now for six months. So that worked itself out. I didn’t know what I was going to do.
[My kids] are able to fix up their rooms the way that they like. They couldn’t do that with mold growing on everything in the apartment.
I took the first thing that came, and this is where I am. And I’m happy. My kids are still in the same school–it’s in the same school zone. It’s about ten minutes away from where I lived before. And they’re adjusting. They’re able to fix up their rooms the way that they like. They couldn’t do that with mold growing on everything in the apartment.
That apartment messed up so many things that I had worked so hard to keep. It messed up the living room suite, it messed up three rugs. I’ve been flooded in that apartment, I’ve had feces on my floor. Rats ate through my food. You know, it was horrible. And nobody should have to be in those apartments. Unfortunately I had to raise my kids out there.
There are so many families still out there struggling, and they have no other choice but to stay there. Everybody is scared. We’ve been hearing for almost fourteen years that things are going to change. It’s by the grace of god that I was able to move. I felt so down and depressed, I thought I was never going to be able to leave that place. I raised my babies out there, and they turned out okay. But it’s not a place to raise your family. And it hurts. I don’t want to cry, but I feel sorry–because I once was there. They feel stuck out there, and they need help. Those families really need help. There’s a lot of good people out there and they just don’t know how to reach out. And they really need help.
Most people, they wouldn’t even care. But they went over and beyond to help me, and I appreciate that.
It was hard taking that big step to go against a big apartment complex that could literally put your stuff outside.
But [AVLF] did so much. Mr. Pierce and his coworker would bring rat traps every week. They brought me an air filter to pull some of the moisture out of the apartment. They brought masks and gloves. Most people, they wouldn’t even care. But they went over and beyond to help me, and I appreciate that.
He worked hard on that case for me and my family.
What I can say is that they are for us. They are trying to help us get something better. I can honestly say that. He worked hard on that case for me and my family. I can only speak for my experience, but he worked hard, and it wasn’t easy.
For anyone who might be going through this: Don’t give up. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be stressful. Just keep pushing and wait–and the process will work. It will work. Just don’t give up. Because they wanted me to give up, and I couldn’t.