Mold complaints leave local woman, son, living out of car

(Photo by Chelsea Edwards)
(Photo by Chelsea Edwards)(KWTX)
Published: May. 22, 2019 at 6:54 PM CDT
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A Belton woman with a 6-year-old son ended living out of her car after she complained about a mold-filled apartment with light fixtures that drip, put down a $400 deposit on another unit, and then learned the second apartment didn’t meet standards for federal rental assistance.

Tracee Gooden says she moved into a unit last year at the Belle Oaks apartment complex at 1100 Shady Lane in Belton, and there have been issues ever since.

“The problems aren't being fixed; they're being covered up,” she said as she pointed out areas where water has leaked through the ceiling.

Mold grows along the walls, making her son’s breathing problems worse.

Gooden pressed an area around an electrical socket to show how pliable the wallboard is, and her fingers pushed through the drywall.

The moisture has even caused an electrical fire when she plugged in phone charger.

“I couldn't even move my hand from the plug,” she said.

“It shocked me and caught fire.”

The source of the water appears to be the unit above her apartment, which has a gaping hole in the roof.

The insulation is hanging out and has turned black, and pools of water sit on the floor.

Gooden recently noticed sparks from the ceiling and called the Belton Fire Department, which tried to help.

She says a representative of the Red Cross came by, checked out the apartment, deemed it unlivable and gave her money to find a new place.

Three days later, she said, Belle Oaks offered her a new unit, but required a $400 deposit, which she paid.

“The extra money that I gave them was from Red Cross to make sure I had somewhere to go,” says Gooden.

“And I still don't.”

That's because after she moved her things in, the locks were changed.

Gooden receives Section 8 federal rental assistance, and the local Housing and Urban Development Office confirmed her new apartment didn’t pass inspection.

“It’s a waiting game. They're not going to approve it. I can't move in. Can I have my money back?” she said.

She and her son have been sleeping in her car ever since.

KWTX contacted the president of the apartment management company, Eureka Multifamily Group, and he said Gooden would be allowed into the new unit, even if the rent hasn’t been paid and said the unit will be repaired so it meets federal standards.

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