PRHA addresses mold concerns at Hamilton Place

The Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority building. Credit: WAVY/Kara Dixon.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority says it’s committed to fixing mold problems at one of its housing complexes.

New executive director Ed Bland says there have been complaints from residents at Hamilton Place about mold for years.

“We want residents to come to us if they have an issue. We have invested a lot of money in building these buildings, so it’s to our advantage that the buildings are functioning properly,” Bland said Friday morning in a news conference.

Bland says 2017 is not the first year they’ve worked to fix the issue. They say PRHA has worked since 2012 to fix the issue.

Bland, along with employees from Stokes Environmental Associates, Ltd. and Applied Laboratory Services, LLC, spoke about the issues they’ve run into combating mold.

“Mold spores are everywhere in nature and mold affects people differently,” said Quinn Zimmerman, with Stokes Environmental.

Zimmerman says the climate, hurricanes, broken equipment such as pipes and tenant error causes mold growth.

Zimmerman says they’ve inspected nearly one third of the units at Hamilton Place for mold and they’ve taken the right steps to get rid of it by cleaning the affected areas, installing dehumidifiers and educating tenants.

According to Zimmerman, there are no government regulations on how much mold is too much mold in apartments since it is an allergen, but the business uses the National Allergy Bureau’s scale when testing air samples.

Bland says families are relocated to other units when their own units are remediated. He says the services do not cost anything to the families and PRHA has paid more than $100,000 for mold removal services.

While Bland and Zimmerman believe it will be hard to stop the problem permanently because of the area’s climate, they are working to cut it down in the future.

Bland says PRHA will be hiring a company to conduct an architectural forensic analysis to pinpoint where mold grows and how they can design and build future complexes to avoid this problem. He hopes to get it started within the next month.