World Asthma Day 2013

On Tuesday, May 7, 2013, the Asthma Coalition of Los Angeles County (SAJE, St. John’s, Esperanza Community Housing Corp., and the Breath Mobile) hosted a press conference to highlight the connection between housing conditions and asthma t 1209 W. 39th Pl. This asthma awareness event at 1209 W. 39th Pl. also featured asthma health screenings, provided informations about asthma policy as well as other educational materials to tenants.

One of the tenants, Gabriel Martinez, spoke to the press about the slum-housing conditions he has been facing in the complex during the last two years. His wife, Maria Martinez, had told SAJE organizers before that whenever showers pour hard, their bedroom walls become damp. Their apartment also used to have a carpet in the living room that would be drenched with rainwater for weeks. Doctors from St. John’s informed them that the carpet, along with the mold, caused their four-year-old daughter’s asthma.

After they discovered that their old carpet was the culprit for the asthma, Gabriel and his family started demanding their rights as tenants. They got involved with SAJE and started to learn more about their rights and continue to strive for better living conditions.

When the media toured the family’s apartment, what they saw was a recently painted ceiling. What they could not see was the mold laying underneath and the moisture in the air. Perfect conditions for the mold to grow right back.The media saw a plastered ceiling in the kitchen that gets “repaired” every three months, and they saw wood flooring in the living room that recently replaced the torn and moldy carpet. “Mickey Mouse repairs” like this are made often by landlords to pass SCEP (Systematic Code Enforcement Program) Inspections, but the root cause of the issues go unaddressed causing buildings to remain in unhealthy living conditions.

An Unsafe Home

Manuela L. has been living in her apartment for 14 years. She has five kids and is pregnant with another baby on the way. Her apartment has gone through different management personnel, but her apartment remains with the same slum conditions.

Recently, the mold in her apartment was “cured,” but after a few months it returned.
Most of the windows in her apartment are broken. Her children are prohibited from playing in the apartment hallways and in the backyard. The only place for them to play is in her living room. She fears for their safety, as she knows that they are very active and does not want any accidents to occur due to the broken windows.

Struggle with Bed Bugs

Daaihma H. not only has mold in her house, she also has bed bugs. These bed bugs don’t only affect her, but her small children as well. Both of her kids are small and are defenseless in fighting off these bugs. Her 2 month old baby is full of rashes. Her 5-year-old daughter can’t sleep at night. She has already given her landlord notices, but he refuses to fix the problem. Now, she has gone to her children’s physician to obtain a letter proving that the afflicting rashes are caused by the bed bugs in the apartment.

SAJE Leader Jesus Lopez

On March 12, 2013, I interviewed Jesus Lopez about what happened with the repairmen in his home after New Year’s Day. Jesus already had problems with them due to a previous occasion where they only painted over the mold in his kitchen instead of doing a full restoration. This time they were about to do the same in the bathroom, but he stops them. He knows his rights as a tenant and stopped them because he knew that they were not making full repairs.

Jesus has been featured in one of our Spotlight’s before. To get a little more background on his story you can click on the link to read it: Jesus Lopez vs. US Bank

No Repairs….NO HIGHER RENT!!!

Maria M. came to one of our meetings to share with us footage that she captured herself of some of the problems she’s been having in her apartment.She tells us that although her landlord sometimes makes repairs at her apartment, they tend to not last more than 15 days and then everything starts to breakdown again. Her landlord is now trying to increase her rent and accuses Maria of violating her initial contract of 4 tenants, but the number of tenants in her apartment has not changed.

This isn’t the first occasion that Maria has spoken up about her slumhousing issues. Her apartment has been covered in a previous blog post, which you can check out here:

Living In The Damp

Sometime in September, this video was captured by Gloria Serrano -SAJE- and Berta Garcia -Community Leader at SAJE- inside of a South L.A. resident’s home. By home I mean an apartment well passed the dire point in needing repairs, especially where water is concerned. Take a look at what Maria Gervacio and her downstairs neighbor are dealing with….