SAVANNAH, Ga. — A new public-private housing development that received $13 million from Savannah taxpayers has been plagued with mold, mildew and leaks that allow water to seep into apartments, according to tenants and city officials looking into the problems.
Savannah Gardens opened its first units in November after five years of work. Touted by city leaders for its mix of subsidized and market-rate housing, Savannah Gardens is slated to have 330 apartments and 120 single-family homes when it’s completed in 2014.
Asia Jones and her four children lived in apartment 611 for barely six months before they were forced to leave, she said, because of poor conditions. In mid-August, she said, her 6-year-old son complained his bedroom carpet was getting wet during a downpour outside. Jones said she pulled up the carpet to find water pooling on the floor underneath.
“It never stopped,” Jones said. “It was like a lake.”
Workers later found mold behind the sheetrock in her apartment, Jones said, and within two weeks her family had to go to the hospital with respiratory problems, racking up $1,500 in medical bills.
Jones’ apartment was one of at least 12 units cited for problems in a memo by City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney sent last week to Savannah’s mayor and City Council. The memo said problems included water intrusion, mold and mildew, leaking air conditioners, plumbing and a defective ice maker.
Small-Toney told city officials that one issues is that the apartments were built to energy-efficient guidelines that keep heated or cooled air indoors from seeping outside. That can promote mold growth if air conditioners aren’t running during the humid summer, she said.
Savannah Gardens is being built by Atlanta-based developer Mercy Housing Southeast. Its president, Charice Heywood, said he’s aware of problems in six or seven apartment units and all are being fixed.