PRHA addresses mold issues at Portsmouth housing complex

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority held a news conference Thursday to address a mold issue that has plagued one of their housing complexes for years.

Some residents say they have suffered from respiratory illnesses because of it.

“I’m starting to have breathing problems,” Larry Thorne told 10 On Your Side.

He is one of about a dozen residents who gathered outside at the news conference to hear the announcement.

Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority brought in an engineering company, TAM, to figure out what’s causing the mold. 

TAM President, Timothy Mills said, “As part of our effort we conducted a forensic study we looked at the building as a whole and primarily came out with two general recommendations.”

First, he explained there are problems with the original construction that lets water get inside behind the flashing, windows and doors.

Second, he said is a problem with the mechanical systems (HVAC) that draws humid air indoors whenever the air conditioning or heat is running.

“We’ve come up with about a dozen small changes, installation of some additional dehumidification equipment in a number of the units, and we are confident that will be successful.” Mills said.

But residents were not convinced. One shouted out asking if inspectors would come to each apartment to make an assessment. 

Thorne told WAVY.com, “I don’t believe anything they say cause right now is the runaround.”

PRHA Director Edward Bland told 10 On Your Side, “I understand their frustration. That’s the reason why we are aggressively trying to work through the problem so that everybody can live comfortably.”  

Bland says work on the outside will begin within 45 days.  The original builder will make the repairs.

They will put out a bid for the mechanical work.  

He hopes to have it all done by the end of the year and plans to meet with residents next week to let them know when an inspector will visit each unit.

10 On Your Side asked about the cost to taxpayers for these repairs.  Bland said he did not want to even give an estimate until the bids come in.

Mills did say however, the most expensive piece of equipment will be a special dehumidifier that costs about $1,100 each.

There are about 190 apartments and they don’t yet know how many will need one.

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