Mold in military housing? Hear from Lincoln Military Housing’s president

Posted at 11:24 AM, Nov 30, 2011
and last updated 2012-04-09 18:34:11-04

Jarrel Bliss, the president of Lincoln Military Housing, spoke to NewsChannel 3 about his company's commitment to military customers during an exclusive, hour-long interview with Laurie Simmons. We were granted the interview after several families came forward with their stories about their horrific living conditions. Some were living with dangerous mold and one even reported being exposed to carbon monoxide.

"We know we have to provide safe homes to these families. It is very important to us, our highest priority," said Bliss.

He wanted to address all the complaints.

But even with a new maintenance review program underway, mold testing will still not be guaranteed.

Many families may not even know that they are living in dangerous conditions.

"We will test when testing is required," said Bliss.

Bliss said that it is the maintenance workers and complex managers who decide when professionals need to be called in to test.

"We have a vast training program. Our service teams are taught the guidelines and how to perform visual inspections," said Bliss.

But many Lincoln residents say the workers and contractors the company hires are not properly trained to deal with mold.

They shared pictures of moldy wood and insulation tossed into trash cans on the curb. It was not properly bagged up like industry standards mandate.

One family described how Lincoln dealt with mold that showed up in four rooms of their house.

"We demanded they come and take care of it, and our normal maintenance lady arrived the next day with commercial brand cleaner and a sponge and tried to fix it cosmetically. When she was unable to remove it all, she had another maintenance employee return that afternoon to paint over the blackened areas," said one resident.

We shared this email with the president.

"This is not EPA guidelines. That is not how you deal with visible mold on drywall. EPA clearly states you do not paint over mold. How does what you are saying to me about how these workers are trained compared to what actually happens in these homes, how does that strike you?" we asked.

Well I can't speculate on that, but I know our teams are always following the guidelines and standards," he said.

"I think lots of families would disagree with that and that there perception is your maintenance workers don't do the proper job," said Simmons.

"We are going to change that perception, we are going to do whatever we can to make sure they are cared for and comfortable," Bliss says.

But the company still has not provided documents that prove their workers are certified or licensed in anything having to do with home inspections, mold or gas detection.

It's what the Crum family found out the hard way. They told us about a Lincoln maintenance worker who failed to use a gas detector properly.

"One of Lincoln's maintenance workers says he was trained to use this piece of equipment, said there was no gas leak. Ended up, there was. They all had to be sent to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning," she says.

"I can't speculate on this matter, and I can't talk about specific families. But I can tell you our teams are trained and they know how to use their equipment and will detect CO2 when they need to and they have in the past," Bliss claims.

When it comes to fixing water damage, no certification is needed. According to the EPA, you just need to stop the source of any leak.

But families say they've had a difficult time trying to get the company to comply.

"Ever since we moved in here, we have had our roof leaking. It took them four years to finally replace it and that was after fighting Lincoln Military Housing that long," says another resident.

"Why should a family feel they have to fight to get their roof fixed to stop leaks from coming into their home?" we asked.

"Well, I can't speculate on that matter, but I know we are going to work with the residents. I know we are going to follow up, work towards a good satisfactory conclusion," he says.

Even after we shared pictures of the mold with the president, he still refuses to acknowledge that it is indeed mold.

"Can you admit that there have been cases where mold has been found in these home through tests that you acknowledge?" Simmons asked.

"I can't speculate on that, but to the extent that we follow the guidelines and testing has indicated a situation, then we reacted to that situation," he says.

"So you still won't admit there has been any mold in your homes in the past five or six years?"

"I can't speculate on that."