EAGAN, Minn. - A newborn baby is living an apartment county inspectors say isn’t suitable for habitation because of a mold problem. Her mother says so far, nothing has been done to fix it. Now she worries for her children’s health.
Amanda Dokka moved into her Eagan apartment in June with her 10-year-old son and her boyfriend. A few months later she gave birth to a baby girl named Chloe.
Dokka says she noticed the excessive mold soon after moving in.
“There’s mold outside. There’s mold inside. There’s mold in the garage. There’s mold upstairs,” she said.
She showed KARE 11 a crawlspace beneath her kitchen which was wet and soggy. Dokka says it’s always that way.
In the attached garage, which lies right below a bedroom, the walls are damp. Sheetrock is peeling away. There is mold everywhere.
Dokka also took samples in petri dishes from her son’s bedroom. The mold grew quickly.
“My newborn is starting to wheeze,” she said. “And I'm scared because you know her lungs are still being developed.”
Amanda says she made complaints to the landlord but with no results. Finally, a public health nurse who visits her apartment contacted Dakota County Environmental Health Inspectors.
When an inspector visited, he issued a report declaring that because of “potential health risks to newborn, this unit is not of suitability of habitation.”
That was August 28th.
More than two weeks later, Amanda and her family are still living with the mold. She says her landlord has not contacted her but did send over a maintenance man who sprayed bleach and replaced some sheetrock in the garage. But she says, it did nothing to address the cause of the mold.
“Their mold is growing so fast and all they do is spray bleach and they think it’s the cure all,” she said.
Kelly Harder, Director of Community Services for Dakota County says “clearly the science is there that mold has to be dealt with.”
He says the county is working with the family on housing options. The City of Eagan is working with the landlord.
“Our interest is to get it remediated absolutely as fast as we can without question,” Harder said.
They hope the landlord will cooperate and fix the property. That’s the speediest solution. He has until Friday to explain to city inspectors how he will fix the problem.
If he doesn’t, he can be cited. But Amanda’s options are tough. She can’t afford to move. The city says forcing the landlord to fix a problem and take months in court.
Other neighbors who rent from the same landlord say they too have complained about mold problems in the past to no avail. They hope this time, something gets done.
In the meantime, Dokka, Chloe and the rest of the family live with the mold.