NEW BEDFORD Rosa Rodriguez, a single mother living in public housing with her six children, is frustrated with her mice and rat-infested apartment at Ben Rose Gardens and wants out.
"My kids are scared. They sleep with the light on. I don't know what to do," she said. "I clean everything and when I wake up there is more stuff. I have droppings everywhere. I clean everyday.I'm just traumatized right now. All my kids are traumatized."
She has already thrown out two couches and now the living room of herfive-bedroomapartment at 943 S. Water St. is barren of furniture for people to sit down, she said. She has also discarded a mattress and clothes because of themice and rat droppings and won't buy replacement furniture while the problem persists. "I'm throwing, little by little, everything out," she said.
She said the infestation, which dates back to November, is affecting her and her children's health because of the stress and allergies to the droppings, she said. She said the problem is so severe that she could not cook during the holidays.
Destiny Rodriguez,Rosa's 17-year-old daughter,came downstairs during the interview with a reporterwith a plastic bag of clothes she was planning to throw away because of the droppings. "You can hear them in the vents at night. You can hear they are big and not little," she said.
Rosa Rodriguez said she has lived in the apartment at Ben Rose Gardens for about eight years now and currently pays $881 for the unit where she lives with her children (ages 17, 14, 13, 10 and twin 5-year-olds) and her sister, she said.
She is on the Section 8 waiting list for public subsidized private housing and wants a new place. "I've asked to be moved and they refuse. We can't live here. It's too much," she said. "I want a Section 8 housing."
Steven A. Beauregard, executive director of the New Bedford Housing Authority, said he is aware of the problem and got a briefing last week about it and also saw photos of the mice. The NBHA has sent out an exterminator multiple times and has patched holes and has pulled down insulation in the basementin an effort to correct the problem.
"We're going in there and doing what we have to do and we will continue to do so until everything is gone," he said. "We don't leave anyone in the lurches.'
He said the wait for a Section 8 apartment is a long one. "A person could easily be on the Section 8 waiting list for five, six or seven years. Everything is taken. There is nothing to be had," he said.
Rodriguez said she complained to the city's Board of Health and an inspector found "mice droppings" throughout the entire apartment and observed a mouse climbing a threaded rod in the basement, according to a report filed on Nov. 20. (Rodriguez made the report available to The Standard-Times.)
That inspection revealed "violations of the state sanitary codes" and a correction order was issued to the NBHAthat same day, according to a statement from Damon Chaplin,the city's public healthdirector and provided by Jonathan Carvalho, a spokesman for the City of New Bedford and the Office of the Mayor.
"The remedial actions of the correction order include contacting and hiring a licensed pest control company to inspect the unit within 24 hours and treat the unit subsequently; requiring the property owner to forward copies of pest control inspection reports to the Health Department; and post-treatment inspection by the Health Department," the statement said.
"The property owner has complied with the Health Departments request and pest control contractors recommendations, and during follow-up inspections, improvements have been noted. The Health Department will continue to monitor the situation until all work is completed and the apartment is properly abated, it said.
Informed of the remedial actions by the Health Department and the NBHA, Rodriguez said it doesn't seem to her that the problem is getting better. She continues to find droppings with the family's dirty clothes in the hamper and in their beds. "I'm washing clothes like crazy," she said.
"They say they are correcting it. I feel it is multiplying. I'm not living a normal life," she said.
Follow Curt Brown on Twitter @CurtBrown_SCT
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