October 17, 2016 9:17 pm

Penticton low-income residents say something in their home is making them sick

From bug bites to suspected mould and severe dust issues; residents in a low income housing complex in Penticton complain their unit is unlivable and the conditions are leading to serious health complications. The landlord said it’s done all it can and as Neetu Garcha reports, the family said it has no choice but to move out.


Some tenants of a low-income housing complex in Penticton are complaining their unit is unlivable and causing health complications.

Tara Hallam said for the past three weeks, she and her 8-year-old daughter have had a hard time breathing in their home. They blame high levels of dust and suspect there is also mould.

“It irritates our skin and burns our eyes,” Hallam said. “My daughter’s face starts to burn.”

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On top of that, she said they’ve been dealing with spider bites. The issues are so bad, she said they had to leave their home last weekend.

“I got a bit of sleep over the weekend at a motel.”

Hallam lives at Columbus Park which is owned and operated by the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society (SOBIS).

SOBIS executive director, Linda Sankey, said the society has done everything it can to try and mitigate the issues.

“We do have a regular pest control company that does come by on a monthly basis and more requests as needed,” Sankey said.

However Hallam said the issues persist and she keeps her windows open, even at night, and keeps multiple fans and air purifiers running.

“It could be a number of things: the drier lint backflow, spider bites, I have no idea what’s causing it,” Hallam said.

Hallam suspects recent renovations at many of the units may have disrupted something in her attic. And she blames a leaking toilet for mould on the roof of her kitchen.

Sankey said none of the renovations created dust but Hallam wants the society to take a closer look.

And Hallam isn’t alone, other tenants have complained about similar dust and mould issues.

“I’ve had issues with mould in my place,” resident Kiarra Whitehead told Global News.

“This is a children’s complex, we want this to be a safe place for these kids.”

Another resident, Justin Dobler, said he’s also had suspected mould issues.

“My daughter, she has asthma, so it affects her more than the rest of us but there are congestion issues,” Dobler said.

Sankey said Hallam’s dust complaint is the only one the society has received and they’re not aware of any mould issues.

“If specific tenants want to let us know about which units they’re having issues, by all means, our process is they contact the office phone number and put in a work order request,” Sankey said.

Sankey said a mould test from Hallam’s unit came back negative but Hallam believes the testing wasn’t thorough enough.

Hallam feels she now has nowhere left to go.

“I don’t have close friends where I can say ‘hey can we come shack up at your house for a while?’”

Sankey is encouraging any tenants with dust or mould issues to contact the society directly.

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