Tuesday, December 20, 2011


AAaaaaahhhhh.... Yes, the dreaded form letter.  You complain to (fill in the blank), pour your little heart out... draft, redraft - final draft - until you're satisfied that your complaint letter expresses just the right amount of despair and dissatisfaction... And you get back - THE FORM LETTER.

It usually goes something like this:

' Dear Mr. / Miss. So and so... Thank-you for your feedback.  Your input is appreciated.  Please rest assured that we value your opinion.... Blah blah blah......'

Customer Service

Ha ha ha... This would be laughable if we were talking about a defective CD from XYZ Electronic company...., but - wouldn't you expect a more personal, informed response from the Deputy Assistant Secretary of HUD in reference to ADA Violations??!

However, that's exactly what I got when I complained to HUD recently about my Housing Authorities' nasty habit of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by continuing to house my son and I in deficient homes.  A form letter, with a threat thrown in for good measure.  You already know about the 'moat', so I won't bore you with that again, but wait - let me tell you how we got here in the first place....

Once Upon A Time (2005-2010), my kids and I lived in a cute little house subsidized by HUD.  It was just right.  Until it was WRONG.  Soon after we moved in, my sons asthma began to worsen, and we had persistent colds... Then, there was the smell.  No matter - when you pay $300.00 per month rent you can hardly complain, right?  So, we suffered for years in silence.  Then, I started noticing alot of black mold in the bathroom.  No amount of scrubbing, disinfecting, bleaching would get rid of it.... I blamed myself for a long time.  Then, talking to my neighbor - who'd lived in that neighborhood since forever, he confirmed that ALL of the homes in our area were infested with mold inside and out, to a certain extent.  It had something to do with the type of soil the homes were built on.... Blah, blah, blah... 

Of course, I kicked into high gear and began to educate myself on mold, and it's negative effects on asthma sufferers.  I panicked.  I tried to get my PHA (Public Housing Agency) to feel my pain, to no avail.  They acted like I was a lying drama queen, and tried to ignore me.  However, I'm not the type of person to be ignored.  With my son's Pediatrician egging me on, I pressed the issue. 

Me: "There's mold in my home"
Them:  "No, there's not"
Me: "Yes, there is"
Them: "No, there's NOT"
Me: "Yes, there IS"
Them: "Well, how can you tell?  Maybe you just need to clean better.... "
Me:  "It's clearly visible"
Them: "No, it's not.  You just need to clean better.... "

And on and on it went for months.  I appealed to  Mr.Lee Palman, Director of the DC HUD Office.  Unfortunately, he was unavailable for comment.  Always.

Me: "Tell you what - why don't you get someone more objective in here to test for mold spores, and prove me wrong?"
Them: "No."
Me: "Yes."
Them: "No."
Me: "YES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Them (finally): "Ok."

So, these guys come in with all their bells and whistles, sampling this, and testing that... Turns out - I was RIGHT.  There was over $6,500.00 worth of toxic mold damage to my home.  I was sick, but vindicated.

Do you think that changed anything? No.  When I asked what they had in the way of plans to remediate the mold damage?  The Executive Director of the PHA literally laughed in my face and said: "Nothing".  I was told to GET OUT, in no uncertain terms.  In fact, they filed for eviction against me, because - they said - since I liked to complain so much, and I was so unhappy - I could move next to a toxic moat, across from a landfill on a dead-end street and see how much better I liked it there (He, hehe, snicker snicker..... ).

And, so - here we are.  Thanks for your response.... :-/

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