2013-05-10 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

Mold Remediation Must Be Expanded
by Miriam Rosenberg

On Tuesday I joined Councilman Donovan Richards and the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding on a tour of homes in Rockaway which are infested with one of Sandy’s calling cards – mold.

It is hard to imagine how homeowners are living with this health hazard, as I know I am still feeling the effects, the day after the tour, of being around it for a short time.

This much needs to be done – the city must, as urged by Richards, use a portion of the funding it is receiving from the federal block grant money specifically for mold remediation. It also must do a better job of letting people know that it already has a program, although a limited one, to do the work.

In January, the city announced a $15 million to be coordinated by Neighborhood Revitalization NYC, an affiliate of LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation). It is meant to help 2,000 homes in the areas that were hardest hit by Sandy to receive free mold remediation. In March Nick Charles of LISC said 900 were in the program so far. Reportedly between then and now only 500 more people have been accepted into the program bringing it to a total of 1,400 slots that are now filled.

The city program is income based. Call 1-855-740-MOLD (6653) or 311 for more information. The program also offers Mold Awareness and Safe Practices Training that is free and open to the public. The next one is Monday, May 13th at PS 106 on Beach 35th Street in Far Rockaway.

Remember anyone can say they will remove mold for you, but it doesn’t mean they are qualified. Despite popular belief, alcohol only hides the mold, it does not remove it. Mold remediation must be professionally done.

The State Department of Health says the following on its website about mold: The most common effects of being exposed to mold are nasal and sinus congestion; eye irritation such as itchy, red, watery eyes; respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing; cough, throat irritation, skin irritation, such as a rash; and headache. Those with respiratory sensitivities, such as allergies, asthma, or emphysema; and compromised immune systems, such as HIV/AIDS infection, organ transplant patients, or chemotherapy patients are most at risk for health problems from being exposed to mold.

The Alliance for a Just Rebuilding conducted a survey of 700 storm-damaged households in Rockaway and Staten Island. It found that 61 percent of those were contaminated by mold.

This must be treated for what it is – a health emergency. That is why the city has to expand what it is doing and put aside some of the federal funds it is receiving for mold removal.

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NYCHA has left many of its tenants in the dark concerning long overdue repairs to apartments in its many buildings. I would like to hear from people who live in one of the complexes in Rockaway about their experiences concerning repairs to their apartments. If you live in Redfern Houses, Beach 41st Street Houses, Hammel Houses, Ocean Bay Apartments or Carlton Manor just send a short email and outline your experiences. Are you waiting for repairs? For how long? What you have been told? mrosenberg@rockawave.com

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