East-campus Housing Mold

University of Oregon-owned homes in the east campus neighborhood area are still molding years beyond their sell-by date. No, houses don’t have sell-by dates. Instead, they are condemned and fenced up, thus yielding less than rent. Meanwhile, multiple construction projects on campus have built new facilities, amenities and luxuries all over campus during the past several months.

A lawsuit filed in July 2019 by Paul and Emily Meng for $750,000 remains unresolved over their time renting 1709 Moss St, according to the Daily Emerald. Their complaint filed stated the entire Meng family had medically documented symptoms of being exposed to mold consistent with mold tests from the attic. This scenario forced them to move out, losing almost everything they owned. Michael Tobin at the Emerald tweeted January 29 that, “The Meng’s lawyer is trying to push for a mid-June trial date.”

Current student-tenants in university-owned homes along Villiard St., Moss St. and Columbia St. reported, during a recent canvas of the east campus neighborhood by myself, that they have regular dealings with UO Housing management to mitigate mold outbreaks. One tenant who wished to remain unnamed said their basement, which is treated monthly for mold, is padlocked by management. The tenant said they are not allowed to see the inside of the basement, which they said seemed suspicious as a new renter. Their hesitancy of going on the record, they explained, was fear for breaking something in the lease agreement they might not be aware of listed. 

Another current tenant, Kira Burkett, an undergraduate environmental studies student also living in the east-campus neighborhood with two children said, “When we first moved in here we had to sign a lead agreement acknowledging that there’s lead paint in our house and that we can’t sue on any basis that if there was any illness. We had to sign that because my only way of being at the university was to get into university housing. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to go to school.”

When talking about the mold in her home, Burkett said, “We found an anti-mold spray that we clean with. We have to scrub things down ourselves. We’ve had the instance where our neighbor’s pipes burst upstairs, and we have the leakage through my daughter’s ceiling in her room. The management came out and replaced the panel and said that because the weather was good that it should dry fine, and we shouldn’t have any issues. But we do know that the house behind us, from what we’ve been told, was condemned because of black mold. And so that’s made us think about possible conditions here.”

“My girls do have allergies,” Burkett continued. “It’s not super bad, but I can’t say whether it’s connected to this or moving to Eugene.” She explained they had yet to go to a doctor’s office to get tested for the source of their possible allergies.

These accounts from the east campus neighborhood illustrate that mold is still attacking students and their families in their homes from all directions. What should be asked next is why the university insists on owning homes they refuse to renovate for livable conditions? If costs are the issue, why not sell the property to worthy homeowners who will maintain these structures and property values? And if the university plans to build other types of residential facilities someday, then why not get it over with instead of pandering to educational and sports interests for construction?

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