VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Iisha Garcia says the mold in her Shelton Circle home started last winter. It’s in one of several Lincoln Military Housing communities throughout Hampton Roads.
Lincoln says the mold persisted into the warmer weather because the U.S. Navy family was not using the HVAC system properly. Right now, the matter is in the courts and the family is in a hotel, with their lease terminated.
On September 10, Virginia Beach Circuit Court granted a 45-day injunction against Garcia, directing her not to cause any further damage to the home.
In May, Garcia used the art of public protest to draw attention to mold in her home, using chalk and drawing pictures and messages on the side of the two-story home.
“[Lincoln] said that we were misusing our HVAC system, and that the temperature [that had been set for the air conditioning] was too low,” Garcia said in a Thursday afternoon interview.
Says she keeps it between 69 and 72, but Lincoln says it was more like 62.
Over the summer, Lincoln had work crews do further repairs — that’s when Garcia says she needed to get in the house to get medicine for her daughter who has asthma.
Lincoln says it changes locks on its properties when repairs like these would be underway.
Garcia says she tried to go through the local Lincoln agent, and even called Virginia Beach Police.
“At that point, there was a piece of wood propping up the window. I pushed that in to gain access because I needed to get my daughter’s medication,” she said.
Garcia says she also went through plastic barriers inside the home, large sheets with zippers that separate certain areas where work is being completed, and removed one of them.
Lincoln forwarded this statement explaining why Garcia’s lease was terminated:
“Unfortunately, Lincoln Military Housing has made the difficult decision to terminate the lease of one of our residents. LMH has worked closely with our Navy partner to ensure that the expectations of the family have been met or exceeded at every opportunity. However, on multiple occasions, the resident took actions that not only damaged the home but put the safety and health of herself as well as our vendors and team members at risk, as a result, LMH was forced to terminate the lease.
“Despite the repeated violations that resulted in the termination of the lease, including violating the agreed-upon terms of displacement by breaking into the residence, LMH has taken multiple actions to ensure the resident does not incur financial hardship as a result of this situation, to include stopping all rent payments effective as of the date of termination. In addition, LMH has and will continue to pay for the residents’ temporary lodging through September 25, 2020 while they make arrangements to relocate to a new home.”
The Navy responded to the Garcia case with this statement:
“The U.S. Navy is aware that a termination of a lease has been issued to a military family by our Public Private Venture housing partner, Lincoln Military Housing. Providing quality housing for our military families remains one of our top priorities. We have worked diligently with both Lincoln Military Housing and the family to address their concerns over the past several months, and will continue to work with the family to find suitable housing following their termination of their lease. Just like in the private sector, Public Private Venture housing rental agreements come with rules and regulations that are in place for their both their safety, as well as the safety of maintenance workers and staff. We will remain engaged with the family and Lincoln Military Housing to ensure proper procedures are followed has worked to address the family’s concerns — and will continue to help them find suitable housing.”
Garcia says she wants her family to be able to return to the home in Shelton Circle. She says she’s pursuing a federal lawsuit, and is trying to get a judge in Virginia Beach General District Court of unlawful exclusion from the home. But unless something would change, the family would have to retrieve all of their belongings and vacate in two weeks.