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Silver Lining, Dark Cloud

I’m stuck here. What am I supposed to do? – Tenant

Residing in District 1 is a tenant who has been living in horrible conditions for months on end. They live in a home where the ceiling is moldy, the toilet is leaking, and the carpets had such a foul stench they had to tear them out. This is a home that the tenant used to share with their child, who left when they could no longer handle the substandard conditions. The tenant also opens up her home to her other child and grandchildren. The tenant worries for their health considering that the tenant has visited the doctor several times due to a persistent sinus infection because of the conditions of the home.

Ceiling has been leaking for months. A repairman came to fix it, but only sprayed paint over the damage, and did not address the issue. // Photography by Kailyn Nickel

Ceiling has been leaking for months. A repairman came to fix it, but only sprayed paint over the damage, and did not address the issue. // Photography by Kailyn Nickel

Nobody deserves to live in conditions like the ones this tenant faces on a daily basis, and they know this. This tenant is a proactive individual – they have reached out to their landlord via text, e-mail, and written letters. They have spoken with code enforcement, and reached out to agencies that claim to help tenants suffering in similar situations. Every time the tenant had been met with disappointment. When my team met this individual, they welcomed us in with open arms, desperate for any sort of assistance we could offer. The best we can do now to return that kindness is to ensure that their story is told and that they get the help they deserve.

Code enforcement failed this tenant. When code enforcement was called to look at the tenant’s moldy ceiling, they denied any issue. It wasn’t until the tenant brought a chair over for them so they could stand on it and feel the sogginess of it themselves that they believed there was an issue. The landlord then sent over a worker, giving the tenant hope that this issue would be resolved. Unfortunately, that was not the case. All the worker did was spray over the mold with white paint. They didn’t bother to cover up the tenant’s bed, which was previously beneath the mold, littering it with white paint specks as well.

Mold lines the bases of the walls, as well as the air vents, causing health issues for the family. // Photography by Kailyn Nickel

Mold lines the bases of the walls, as well as the air vents, causing health issues for the family. // Photography by Kailyn Nickel

The landlord is a prominent community figure here in Fresno. This person was made well aware of the issues the tenant has been struggling with – and certainly has the public platform to address them – but continued to ignore them. Their inactivity forced the tenant to personally deal with the cockroach infestation they moved in with, the toilet plumbing they use a hair clip on to prevent water from spurting out, and the heating that didn’t work for the first two months they were there.

These issues and the unresponsiveness of those meant to help inspired the tenant to reach out to us and share their story. They want to live a better life in a better home, and want others to have the same. As we were leaving, the tenant asked one last question: “Can you imagine all the landlords who get away with horrible living conditions?”

Toilet leaks so profusely that a container must be placed to collect the leakage, and needs to be changed several times a day. Mold covers the water heater area in the garage. // Photography by Kailyn Nickel

Toilet leaks so profusely that a container must be placed to collect the leakage, and needs to be changed several times a day. Mold covers the water heater area in the garage. // Photography by Kailyn Nickel

After writing this story, our organization reached out to the landlord – the prominent community figure we knew would likely have a statement they would want to issue in regards to these problems. While the landlord was initially unresponsive towards us, this story prompted them to action. They reached out to the tenant and sent people over to examine the tenant’s home. Following this, the tenant reached out to us once more and asked us not to share any names in an effort to protect the reputation of their landlord. Out of respect of their wishes, we have retracted all names from this story.

We’re glad to hear that things are going better for the tenant now, and that the landlord is cooperating with them. Unfortunately, that’s only the silver lining to a much darker cloud. The tenant was ignored and neglected numerous times before we began to work with them. It’s for those reasons that No More Slumlords exists to protect tenants who feel like they are helpless and uncared for. It’s imperative that we share stories like these to remind the tenants that we haven’t forgotten them – because we haven’t, and we won’t. We won’t stop sharing these stories until there are no more stories like these to share.

There are many stories like this in your district. We need to cite/fine slumlords. @Esmeralda_Soria #nomoreslumlords Click To Tweet

This is a story from District 1. Share this story with Council Member Esmeralda Soria. Our city leaders need to be aware to what is happening in their districts.

Council Member Esmeralda Soria
Phone: (559) 621-8000
Email: District1@fresno.gov