Former Lincoln Military Housing employee talks to NewsChannel 3 about mold problem

Posted at 4:07 PM, Dec 19, 2011
and last updated 2012-04-09 17:27:37-04

A NewsChannel 3 investigation continues taking action and getting results.

Now, a former employee and a former contractor who worked in moldy apartments say Lincoln Military Housing knew about the problems long before NewsChannel 3 exposed them.

They are coming forward, blowing the whistle on the practices they say Lincoln Military Housing used so long.

“They did not do right by the people who live in those homes.”

Deanette Smith served her country for seven years in the Navy. After watching NewsChannel 3’s exclusive reports on mold in Lincoln Military Housing, she felt she had to come forward about her experiences working for Lincoln back in 2005.

“I’m telling you, just tear down the walls and you will see it all over in every place.”

Deanette says she saw with her own eyes what she calls ‘massive mold problems’ in complexes like Wadsworth Shores, Ben Morrell, and Willoughby Bay.

“Out at Willoughby, unit 8203, I went in there to make it ready, hired a cleaning company, have the invoice. They covered up the mold with just paint.”

“They moved them into more than one of those units with the mold there, they know it.”

She says when residents would come forward when visible mold surfaced, they complained.

“They complained about it, moved them into another unit, or they would put a band-aid over it.”

“Clorox, Deanette, just use Clorox, you can’t go any further with your words, or you won’t have a job.”

Deanette says even back in 2005, the company policy was the same.

“You’re always told, don’t ever say the ‘M’ word…where did that policy come from? In training.”

She says that policy was not only held to Lincoln employees, but also to contractors who came in to fix repairs.

“On more than one occasion, we were told never to say the four letter word, ‘mold’, in front of their customers.”

Brad Perkins owns elite contruction in Gloucester. He showed NewsChannel 3 hundreds of invoices, many for repairs he did in Lincoln homes – both in Yorktown and Virginia Beach.

“Some of these leaks we saw, some of the damage, definitely years, not days or months.”

As for Sandpiper Crescent – Perkins says, “All had mold and moisture problems…every one of them.”

“When you go into a tenant’s house to do water repairs, and you pull a piece of drywall off, they aren’t blind, they can see what’s going on.”

Both of the former Lincoln insiders say the company knew about these problems – so why did it take NewsChannel 3’s reporting to finally get Lincoln to act?

“The reason is there is more money out of their pocket, they want 100 percent occupancy in these places, that is their first concern, not what condition the units in.”

“What would it take to fix every single home after what you’ve seen?”

“A lot of money.”

NewsChannel 3 received this statement from Lincoln Military Housing:

“Lincoln Military Housing is actively putting in place our eight point action plan to continue to upgrade the maintenance services our residents receive. This will include a historical review of all of our systems as well as these allegations.”

That eight point plan also includes free mold tests for all residents who ask, as well as maintenance inspections on all of the homes they own in Hampton Roads.