Single mom and asthmatic 11-year-old living in Asbestos contaminated apartment
OTTAWA -- Maria Mendoza is a single mom living with an asthmatic 11-year-old son in an apartment contaminated with asbestos.
She’s seeking help from her landlord to have repairs done and the asbestos cleaned, which she’s finding very difficult during a pandemic - even though the problems started much earlier.
“My son is taking his allergy medication everyday, and that’s something that never happened, especially when we are at home - it’s not allergy season yet” says Mendoza.
They live in a Herongate area apartment building on Cedarwood Drive.
“My son is 11 years-old, he’s asthmatic… If he doesn’t take his medicine, he starts to be very bad with his asthma, so I know it’s something here”
That something, she says started three months ago, in January.
“One of the maintenance guys came to check my apartment, because he said there was a leak into the apartment downstairs, so he came and found a big puddle in the living room…. so he made a hole with a knife”
He opened the wall, and Mendoza says “water started to come into my living room like a fountain”
The water covered the carpet, couch, and living room.
“He called the plumber, and he tried to contain the water.”
Once the water stopped, she was concerned.
“My biggest concern was because I smell it. It was right away, my son has asthma… They told me, if I wasn’t feeling safe, it was ok to call my insurance company and they explained that they have to remove the wall and remove the carpet.”
She spent a week in a hotel in late January, but when she returned nothing was fixed. She reached out to her landlord, then her insurance company.
“The insurance guy, he came, and he noticed something - he was worried about asbestos. I wasn’t worried about that, I didn’t even know about it."
She had the apartment tested for asbestos. It was found in the carpet, and on the couch.
“He told me it was unsafe to stay here.”
CTV News Ottawa reached out to Timbercreek, Mendoza’s landlord. In a statement received last Friday, they wrote:
“We have been in regular contact with the resident… We can confirm we are in the process of the final stage of cleaning, which includes carpet removal and providing alternative accommodations while the cleaning takes place…At no point was there a health hazard within the suite in question.”
On Monday, Timbercreek told CTV News Ottawa that the cleaning and carpet replacement will occur this week and they will be putting Mendoza and her son up in a hotel from Tuesday until Friday.
Mendoza is a member of ACORN, an organization of low to moderate income families. She asked them for help.
Norma-Jean Quibell is a leader with ACORN, “we’re all forced to stay home right now, so having a health issue in your unit that could possibly make you more vulnerable to COVID is a really scary possibility for some of these low income people.”
Mendoza says, “I have been living here for almost 12 years, 11 years, and I’m not this kind of person to call for just no reason. For me, this was a major thing.”