TAMPA, Fla. — Rats, human waste, and mold are just a few issues people at the Silver Oaks Apartments in Tampa are angry and concerned about. They said their complaints to the property owners have fallen on deaf ears and their health is taking a toll.
Shantia Little has lived at the complex for almost twelve years. She said the property started to take a serious turn for the worse in 2014 and said it is taking a physical toll on her and her children's health.
“I have documents for all of us. All of our names on different forms from the doctor saying that it is not livable. It’s not safe. It’s not healthy for people to stay in an apartment like that dealing with health issues and getting sick," Little said.
For years, Little said the mold and pipe problems have consistently gotten worse at the apartments, so bad in fact that her children have rashes, asthma, and are now temporarily living with her family.
As for her she’s not even risking sleeping in her apartment. She has been sleeping in her truck for the past month.
Across the way at the same complex, Vonnesha King is dealing with her own list of problems in her unit.
"I have been going through mold, rats and leakage," King said.
Almost every room in her apartment has a fly trap to catch the copious amount of gnats that make their way through the drains and inside. In the closet sits a new car seat for her baby that is now covered in mold.
She said she buys air fresheners not to bring in a fresh scent but rather mask the smell of mold. The property is section 8 and owned by Cambridge Management which is based out of Washington state.
ABC Action News contacted a media representative for comment but our calls went unanswered.
“I think because we stay in low income that you know they try to treat us that way and they think it’s okay to treat people this way and it’s not," Little said.
Senator Marco Rubio agreed and in May of 2020 he sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge.
In the letter, he directed Fudge and the agency to direct their attention to numerous Florida properties that took part in the Project-Based Section 8 Rental Assistance programs under HUD that were failing the Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) scores.
Silver Oaks Apartments had a failing score of 40 out of 100 in March of 2020. In a recent statement a representative with Rubio's office said HUD inspected the property in June of 2020 and passed the inspections with a score of 66 out of 100. That is six points above failing.
They said HUD has yet to send them a follow-up letter about the inspection and said Rubio's office continues to monitor the property.
"We are all human and have feelings," Little said.
ABC Action News also contacted Representative Kathy Castor and Commissioner Kimberly Overman for comment.