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Nelson County receives funds to clean up mold in Housing Authority units

LAKOTA, N.D. -- Nelson County will have almost $1 million in federal funds to repair apartment units that have been affected by mold. The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the Nelson County Housing Authority $922,100, North Dako...

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Heidi Heitkamp

LAKOTA, N.D. - Nelson County will have almost $1 million in federal funds to repair apartment units that have been affected by mold.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the Nelson County Housing Authority $922,100, North Dakota's U.S. senators announced in news releases Friday. The funds come after residents in Lakota noticed mold in Housing Authority-owned apartments.

"This grant will help the Nelson County Housing Authority's efforts to remediate and prevent mold, as well as provide necessary repairs to residential buildings under its oversight," Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in a statement. "It will help the housing authority continue its work to provide safe and affordable housing for residents."

Reports of mold in apartments began a little more than a year ago, Housing Authority Executive Director Allen Orwick said. More reports started to come in around January 2015, though some thought it was mildew.

"After further investigation, we found out it wasn't mildew. It was mold," Orwick said. "The problem seemed to continue to grow through the winter."

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As the Housing Authority began to make repairs to the homes, officials noticed the problem was more widespread than originally thought.

Residents living in Petersburg and Michigan, N.D., also began reporting mold-related health concerns, according to Hoeven's office. The Housing Authority determined mold had been found in homes countywide. In total, 25 units, all built around the same time, in six communities had mold problems.

Orwick said the apartments in south Nelson County were less affected by the mold problems. High moisture levels in the northern part of the county due to different water tables and soil types may have contributed to the problem, he added.

The Housing Authority applied for a grant since it didn't have the resources to cover the expenses associated with repairs. Hoeven and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., worked with HUD to advocate for Nelson County, they said in news releases.

"No family should have to live with mold in their homes, causing health challenges and hurting the well being of families and communities," Heitkamp said in her statement. "The housing conditions in Lakota must be addressed so that folks know they are safe when they walk into their homes."

The grant is expected to cover all of the costs associated with repairing the apartments, Orwick said, adding any funds not used will be returned to HUD.

"It's our expectation that this will take care of this problem," he said.

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John Hoeven

Related Topics: NELSON COUNTYHEIDI HEITKAMP
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