Detroit City Council looking into mold remediation funding

Detroit’s City Council is investigating funding sources for a mold remediation program to target those not eligible for one of the city’s existing home repair programs. 

President Mary Sheffield opened discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting during a vote on four contract renewals to provide environmental investigations for lead, water, soil and air quality, which support inspections for the city’s various Housing and Revitalization Department programs. 

This story also appeared on Planet Detroit

Sheffield said programs need to be created for residents who don’t qualify for pre-existing programs.

“Especially with issues with water backups, and water issues and sewage issues — it’s a constant problem,” she said. “And some people are waiting on home repairs. They’ve been on a list for years.… Can we particularly set aside money or create some pathway for residents to access (mold remediation) services?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold can cause congestion, sore throat, coughing, or wheezing, and can exasperate asthma symptoms. Latest reports from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services claim Detroit’s asthma rates were 46% higher than the rest of the state between 2017 and 2019. 

Council member for District 4 Latisha Johnson said she is prepared to share with Council a list of 354 properties across all districts suffering from toxic mold.

“These residents…may have been unknowingly dealing with mold in their basement – but now many people are seeing it,” Johnson said. 

She said one woman in her district was displaced and is now living in a hotel after toxic mold was found in her home.

In District 6, Councilmember Gabriela Santiago-Romero said she also has a list of residents, specifically in the flood zones of Chadsey-Condon.

“I, too have my own list of people that need repairs in their basements. I help seniors clean out their basements after the floods. This is definitely something the city should be prioritizing,” she said.

Sheffield said the greatest need is servicing mold in residents’ homes who are not eligible for existing HRD programs like LeadSafe Detroit or Healthy Homes, which do mold repairs if discovered in the home.

According to reporting by Climate Central and BridgeDetroit, more than half of the city’s homes experience recurring flooding, 84% of which have mold. In 2021, during Detroit’s massive floods, Detroit received more than 25,000 calls, and 24,000 damage claims were made with the regional water authority — all of which were denied. 

The council asked Irv Corley Jr., the executive director of the Legislative Policy Division, to investigate funding sources for a new, independent mold remediation program.

Corley reminded Council they cannot reappropriate ARPA funds with a direct budget amendment from the Mayor’s Office. Council can determine what to do with its $70 million in surplus dollars available in the general fund, on top of another $30 million from 2022.

“I can’t imagine the administration not supporting this request,” Johnson said. “We’re talking about people’s health every day they’re exposed to black mold. We’re putting people’s lives in jeopardy.”

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