Overcrowding, mold among housing issues in Hatchet Lake

Overcrowding, mold among housing issues in Hatchet Lake

By Bryan Eneas

March 2, 2018 – 11:00am

There aren’t enough homes to go around for residents of the Hatchet Lake Denesuline Nation, and the houses which do exist are often overcrowded and in need of repair.

During a tour of the community, local media were introduced to Jonas Sha’oulle, an operator at the local water treatment plant who shares his house with 21 other family members.

“We keep it busy, me and my wife, busy here and there, providing food,” Sha’oulle said. “We help each other.”

While the house may be crowded now, it wasn’t always that way. Sha’oulle’s house was built in 1992, when it was big enough for him, his wife and their two daughters. The family has since grown in size, and Sha’oulle said he wasn’t about to kick his daughters and their children out with nowhere to go. He said they have tried to apply for homes being constructed in the community, but they haven’t been successful in obtaining a residence yet.

Despite the crowded conditions, the grandfather said he enjoys coming home from work and spending time with his family.

“They all run to you every time you come in, and when you’ve been out for a couple days it makes you feel wanted,” he said.

Overcrowding is not the only issue in the Sha’oulle household; black mold is present, causing some respiratory issues with the younger children in the residence. The sewer backed up about 15 years ago, he said, leaving several inches of dirty water in the family’s basement. Sha’oulle said he believes the flooding created the black mold problem present in the house today.

Mold is also growing in an unfinished addition to the Sha’oulle house which the band started in November, 2017. Sha’oulle said the band had left the project unfinished because funding was no longer available to complete the work. He said he had not been given any timeline as to when the work would be completed on the addition.

The family’s lone bathroom is also in need of renovation. Parts of the floor are soft and spongey, and a minor fire in the basement caused further damage. The wall between the toilet and bathtub was bulging like a bubble waiting to burst.

The situation has gotten so bad one of Sha’oulle’s daughters said she was scared to be living in the house.

Pierre Kkaikka, 50, lives with 17 other family members in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom single level house.

“All of my kids live in this house, so I ask my band for help,” Kkaikka said. “There’s a lot of people like that in this community.”

Kkaikka said he hasn’t been able to find steady employment and uses cash poker games and social assistance as sources of income. He said he’s been lucky enough to win a skidoo and a boat, but he’s also endured losses which come with gambling. In order to provide for his family, keep the children happy and put food on the table, Kkaikka said he hunts moose and caribou.

He said he would like to help his children find houses and move out, taking a bit of pressure off of him, but there simply aren’t any houses being built.

“If I get my kids a house, it’s okay, my kids can go live by themselves, but they [can’t] so they’re just staying here with me,” Kkaikka said.

Leadership working to support better housing

Chief Bart Tsannie acknowledged the community had challenges when it comes to the distribution of houses in Hatchet Lake.

“I know we’re building quite a few houses this year but still, not enough for the members here,” he said, noting 10 houses are currently under construction but they have already received 100 applications for them.

The chief of the Hatchet Lake Denesuline Nation said he hopes to do what’s best for the band members with the help of both the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.

“What you see here in our community, it’s the same across the north… it’s all the same,” PAGC Vice Chief Joseph Tsannie said.

Joseph said he would like to see meaningful investments in northern communities from companies who invest heavily in extracting resources from the North. The province overall may have benefitted from the industry, but the same opportunities haven’t been available to northern communities.

PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte said housing is a challenge northern communities face, which he continues to address with the both levels of government.

The 2018 federal budget, tabled Feb. 27, included $600 million over three years to “support housing on reserve as part of a 10-year First Nations Housing Strategy that is being developed with First Nations.”

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Vice Chief David Pratt acknowledged both the federal financial commitment and the need to address the situation sooner rather than later. To do so, he said, the FSIN will put pressure on both provincial and federal governments. Pratt called on the government of Saskatchewan to end jurisdictional disputes and support Indigenous communities. Although First Nations are supported primarily by the federal government, for Pratt, the provincial government still has a responsibility to “do what’s right” for northern Indigenous communities.

“The provincial government needs to get it, that communities like Hatchet Lake, Fond Du Lac and Black Lake, those are Saskatchewan communities as well,” Pratt said.

larongeNOW reached out to Indigenous Services Canada to find out if any commitments had been made or requested by the Hatchet Lake Denesuline Nation to address the band’s housing situation. No response was provided by deadline; this story will be updated to reflect their position if it is made available.

Washington property owner given extension to make repairs to building

Washington property owner given extension to make repairs to building

286 North Franklin

Holly Tonini/Observer-Reporter

The house at 286 N. Franklin St. in Washington

The mother of a Washington landlord facing multiple building code citations at a North Franklin Street property cursed and used a racial slur while at court for a hearing.

Loretta Russo appeared at District Judge Robert Redlinger’s court for a hearing on three citations her son, Mark Russo, received last year for a property at 286 N. Franklin St. The hearing was continued for 45 days, since no repairs had been made to the building. Mark Russo also is the owner of a building at 15 N. Main St. that collapsed last year, trapping a tenant.

When the city code enforcement officer, Ron McIntyre, approached Loretta Russo outside the courtroom to explain that her son had 45 days to get the repairs done, she started cursing at him. She accused him of not answering her calls and not telling her what work needs to be done at the building. She said that neither McIntyre nor his citations were specific enough about what repairs will bring the building to compliance, saying that “plumbing hazard” is too vague.

The plumbing citation states the sump pump on the property was draining into the sanitary sewer storm drain. The second citation was for a furnace that needs to be replaced, and the third was for a garage on the property that is an “unsafe structure.” The citation for the garage said it “may collapse” and there’s water in the basement of the garage, along with black mold.

McIntyre said no one lives in the garage and that the home is still safe for the tenants living there. He told Loretta Russo Thursday her son needed to hire professionals to come in and make the repairs within 45 days because the tenants are complaining.

Loretta responded by using a racial slur to describe the tenants and said that she and her son are “broke.” When asked why she was at the hearing instead of her son, she said he was sick with the flu.

Mark Russo faces more than 30 citations stemming from alleged violations at six rental properties, including the former three-story apartment building at 15 N. Main St., which collapsed last year, trapping a tenant for more than nine hours. Officials inspected the other five rental properties, including the one on North Franklin, in the weeks following the collapse.

The citations involving the building at 15 N. Main are still pending while litigation proceeds over who is responsible for the collapse and who will pay for the building’s demolition.

Inspectors Find Mold Issues in Seattle Homes

Inspectors Find Mold Issues in Seattle Homes

Mold inspectors in the Seattle area consistently report mold issues in homes in the region. Seattle is notorious for its rainy, damp weather and it is therefore no surprise to experts that many residents of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest end up with mold in their houses.

Mold Solutions NW discovered mold in the homes of several Seattle residents. Sometimes there was even black mold inside of homes in the Seattle area. Black mold is especially worrying as it can be harmful to the health of adults, children and pets inside the home. The spores of black mold, when breathed in, can causes symptoms similar to the common cold or allergies. Black mold is not only an irritant, however. It can also cause damage to the foundations and walls of the home as it grows and eats away at the underlying structure of the building it has taken root in.

Mold inspectors such as the ones at Mold Solutions NW know how to find mold. Part of their expertise is in knowing the types of places where mold tends to grow, such as in basements and along window sills. Mold tends to take hold in these sorts of places within a home because they are dark and damp. Beyond that, they are also secluded. Mold can grow undetected and undisturbed in these sorts of locations, allowing it to spread vastly throughout the entire structure.

Mold inspectors do not only look at homes, however. In the Seattle area, all types of structures tend to be impacted by mold. That is why mold inspectors also canvas office buildings and businesses. Mold does not care about who occupies a building; it will try to find a way in no matter what.

Mold inspection is recommended by experts as the first step if someone in the Seattle area believes they may have mold growth in their home or business. Mold inspectors can assess whether there is a problem, the scale of the problem and the options available for remediation of the issue. This makes mold inspection a must-have for Seattle residents.

Mold Solutions NW are some of the leading experts in mold remediation in the Seattle area.


Metro Detroit family says contractor left them with chronic roof leak, black and white mold

Metro Detroit family says contractor left them with chronic roof leak, black and white mold

NOVI, Mich. (WXYZ) – A Novi family says a bad roofing repair job left them with unsafe living conditions.

Tamara Renard says her roof just won’t stop leaking, causing a mold infestation.

The Novi homeowner says it all started back in the spring, after a contractor, R & L Fire and Water Restoration, was brought in to repair their roof.

The job was all set up through the graciousness of a grant- issued by the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency, or OLHSA.

But despite good intentions by the community action group, the job on behalf of the contractor–  the family said– fell short.

Shingles, the Renards said, were replaced on a portion of the roof that was never supposed to be repaired.

Buckets were left in the sunroom to catch the constant leaking from rain or snow. And even worse, the Renards said they were dealing with what they believe is white and black mold.

It’s causing quite a challenge for their daughter who already suffers from some major health issues, including congenital scoliosis and asthma.

Calls out to the company in the last month, they said, have gone un-answered.

So today, Channel 7’s Taking Action news team was on the case, reaching out to OLHSA, then to the contractor. Their stance is that they never repaired the part of the roof that’s causing all the problems.

The Renards say they have evidence to prove that’s not true.

OLHSA responded with the following statement:

We deeply value this family and every family that we serve. Tomorrow, an inspector will visit the home to determine what further services OLHSA is able to provide. We will do everything in our power to see that this family’s home is taken care of.

The contractor has also agreed to be back at this home tomorrow, showing some progress towards resolve.

Channel 7 will continue to follow the story until a solution is determined.

Cleveland homeowner’s basement flooded by neighboring, vacant home

Cleveland homeowner’s basement flooded by neighboring, vacant home

“I’m fed up and I’m tired because nobody cares about my basement getting flooded out.”

Imagine having a flooded basement during a Cleveland winter and while the culprit is so close, it’s a pain to fix it.

That’s been the story for Pamela Pitts, who said she’s tried everything she can to address the water in her basement caused by the vacant home next door.

“You got to come down here every 15 minutes trying to clear it up,” Pitts said, as she used her shop vacuum to clean up puddles on the floor.

She said she painted and renovated her basement in November, and in early January she noticed water creeping in.

“It’s still coming back,” Pitts said. “No matter how much I suck up.”

She said she didn’t even have to go into the house to hear the sound of the water dripping in an already full basement next door.

No one has lived in the home for months, but the water is still on.

The Cleveland water department confirmed there was a busted valve in the street, causing the extreme flooding.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the water department stated, “We need to put a request in for a dig up in order to expose the valve and have the water turned off at the street.”

They plan to do that on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, Pitts said she’s had to remove water-soaked rugs and try to control the smell coming from her water damaged furniture.

“Right here, there was some black mold and we had to cut that out,” Pitts said. “I have allergies and so do my grandkids.”

She also said she tried reaching the landlord for the property next to her, and while he promised to come out and help fix the problem, he hasn’t yet.

“You don’t care because if you did you would have came your butt back here today and took care of what you said you were gonna do,” Pitts said.

“I’m fed up and I’m tired because nobody cares about my basement getting flooded out.”

Pitts said she does plan to file a claim with the city for the water damage she’s gotten over the past week.

Foundation Danger: 5 Things Buyers And Sellers Need To Know

home that needs foundation repair

Cracks or problems in a home’s foundation might seem intimidating, but they’re not always as bad as they seem — for sellers or for buyers.

The foundation might not be the most exciting part of the house, but it is arguably the most important.

When you’re buying a home, there are plenty of fun things to focus on, like putting in an outdoor fire pit, chilling a bottle in that fancy new wine fridge, or relaxing in a soaker tub, to name a few. But before you start envisioning organizing your clothes in that fabulous walk-in closet, drop your eyes down a bit to focus on the home’s foundation. It holds up the house, after all. If what lies beneath isn’t good, it can cause lots of headaches (and cost you big).

Whether you’re a buyer with concerns about your potential new home’s foundation or a seller who has noticed some cracks, you’ll likely need to take some kind of action to resolve the issue (or at least know what you’re dealing with). Here’s what to do.

1. How to spot the signs of foundation damage

When you’re looking at homes for sale in Charlotte, NC, or any other city, you’ll need to know whether there truly is a bad foundation or whether those cracks are from normal house settling. Here are some things to look for that could indicate potential foundation problems, courtesy of Janine Acquafredda, a Brooklyn, NY, real estate agent.

  • Misaligned doors and windows (could indicate a shift in the foundation)
  • Doors that stick or don’t latch shut
  • Windows that are difficult to open or that have cracks in the glass
  • Sloping floors or staircases (indicates a probable pitch in the foundation)
  • Cracked drywall
  • Gaps between the wall seams or between the wall and the ceiling
  • Large cracks in the exterior concrete
  • Water in the basement, crawl spaces, or around the perimeter of the home

If you spot any of these issues, consider hiring a structural engineer in addition to a home inspector. “The average home inspector often won’t know the full aspect of the damages,” says Mayer Dahan, CEO of Prime Five Homes, a real estate development company in Los Angeles, CA. Hiring a structural engineer typically costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000, but if you suspect you need foundation repair, it’s probably worth the cost to find out for sure.

2. Should you buy a house with foundation problems?

In a word? Maybe. If the house you’ve fallen in love with has foundation issues, you might not always want to back away — especially if you live in a competitive real estate market. But don’t expect the purchase to be a cakewalk: Now that you’ve uncovered some real problems, it’s prime time to renegotiate the home’s price to reflect the amount of money you’ll have to put into it to shore up the foundation. “If you are getting a good deal and love the house, by all means, go for it,” says Acquafredda. “Foundation problems can be corrected.”

3. Foundation cracks? Beware, but be smart

Not all foundation cracks are created equal. Some point to normal settling, but others can signal a foundation problem. How can you tell the difference? Consider the size. “Thin cracks — less than ¼ inch — on foundations and walls happen as a house settles, and have probably been around for most of the house’s life,” says Kelvin Liriano, home inspector at Three Keys Home Inspections Inc. in the New York, NY, area. “They just have to be sealed to prevent water intrusion.”

But wide cracks or displacement could indicate a problem that needs to be addressed. Although it could be a costly repair, if you buy a house with a foundation problem, you should be prepared to take action quickly. “It will only get worse and more expensive to fix over time,” advises Dahan.

4. Selling a house with foundation problems? It’s possible

If you know that your house has a foundation problem, you might wonder if you should fix it before you list your home. Acquafredda says to be honest and upfront with buyers by disclosing what the foundation problems are, but not to fix them. Here’s why: “The history of the repair will most likely require permits to be pulled, and it will be documented and become public record.” The problem with that is, potential buyers will probably cross your home off their list if they see there have been foundation problems. And if buyers don’t even look at your house, you won’t have a chance to explain that you’ve fixed the issue. It might be better to not fix the problem but let the buyer know about it so they can bring in people they trust to do the job.

But as the saying goes, even a pancake has two sides. Dahan offers another school of thought on whether you should fix a foundation problem before putting your house on the market: “It is advisable to fix the foundation before selling. The warranty and reputation of the contractor will be a strong selling point to a potential buyer.”

5. You can turn cracked lemons into lemonade

Sellers can market a foundation problem as a good thing. (Yes, really!) After coming down on the price of the home, let potential buyers know that while they’re fixing the foundation, they “can easily add new amenities to the property,” says Elizabeth Jenkins with Source Capital Funding, Inc., a San Diego, CA-based real estate lender. “People like to create their own personal paradise, and this will attract buyers who have a can-do attitude.” Further proof: Atlanta, GA, real estate agent and attorney Bruce Ailion advises people to buy homes with fixable foundation problems. Why? “The discount to buy is perhaps 20% to 25%. The cost to cure is usually about 10%,” he explains.

Woman concerned that mold in her apartment may be making family ill

Woman concerned that mold in her apartment may be making family ill

Woman says mold is growing throughout her apartment
Steve Jefferson


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – An Indianapolis mother wants to know if her family is in danger after discovering they were living with mold in their apartment.

The family moved into a unit on the sixth floor of a complex at 36th St and N. Meridian a couple of years ago.

Marcya Hill-Brown started noticing the mold a few weeks ago and became really concerned when people of the household mentioned not been feeling their best lately. She is waiting to hear back from the health department about questions she has about the mold.

“It started up in the corner of her exercise room,” she said. “I just saw little spots.”

After an initial cleaning with bleach, it just got worse so she reported it to her landlord.

“I let them know I called emergency maintenance, ‘I think I have some black mold in my apartment.” She said they told her they would send someone.

She said the mold has spread in just weeks.

“I take pictures every week and there is more mold,” Hill-Brown said.

A section of wall behind her desk is full of fungus.

“My daughter has reactive lungs. I have had a sinus infection almost every other month,” she said.

Mold and mildew can cause some illnesses to people who are exposed to the fungus. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, symptoms for exposure include rashes, watery eyes, a runny nose, coughing and other signs. But the CDC says there are no government standards established for household mold levels or mold spore levels, making it almost impossible to enforce health regulations.

Officials said that during normal business hours they could research if there is an official complaint filed with the county about mold and mildew concerns at the Meridian St. property, but that the health department was closed on the Monday holiday.

Burlington Oaks resident says her windows are covered in ice and mold

Burlington Oaks resident says her windows are covered in ice and mold

BURLINGTON, Ky. — Amanda Trotter says the windows in her apartment have been covered in ice and mold since winter started.

Trotter says mold is on her front door and on the corners of her windows of her Burlington Oaks apartment, and she isn’t the only resident who’s had issues with icy windows.

“I have three kids here,” Trotter said. “I don’t know if it’s black mold, dangerous mold. For all I know it could be mildew.”

The mold, Trotter said, has been an issue since she moved in over a year ago.

“It’s very frustrating feeling like you’re living under somebody’s roof, and they don’t care about you,” Trotter said.

Trotter said she voiced her frustration on a Boone County Facebook page, and her landlord left a letter on her door soon after.

But Amber, a manager, said the notice was not related to Trotter’s windows.

“It’s due to the cleanliness that she doesn’t keep her apartment,” she said.

Amber said Trotter has 14 days to clean her apartment, and the office will work with tenants to reseal windows in the meantime.

Elizabeth Wetherell says she put plastic over her windows, and she hasn’t had any issues.

“You have to be proactive if you want something like that not to happen,” she said. “I went to the office because they’re single-paned windows and asked what I could do.”

But Trotter says she feels like that’s not her responsibility.

“That isn’t what you’re supposed to do when you own a place. I can’t go through and replace the windows myself. It’s not my responsibility. That’s why I’m renting and not owning a house.”

Murrells Inlet Garden City fire station temporarily closed after black mold discovered

Murrells Inlet Garden City fire station temporarily closed after black mold discovered

When in operation, Station No. 2 in Garden City houses three firefighters and two EMS workers. For the time being, crews have been relocated to Station No. 1 in Murrells Inlet, about 2.5 miles away.

The department is working with a local mold remediation company to remove the mold and anything else harmful to workers at Station No. 2.

City has little recourse when homes sit vacant

City has little recourse when homes sit vacant

Of the Keizertimes

The house at the corner of Sieberg and Arnold Street in south Keizer looks abandoned from the street. Several of the windows are boarded up and “Black Mold” is scrawled across plywood in black Sharpie on the main entry, a warning to those that might try to gain access. However, the most cursory of glances shows the tell-tale signs that not everyone has heeded the caution.

A detached storage shed door is cracked open, but there isn’t anything of value in sight even after it’s opened further. Cast off tools and buckets along with what looks like a furnace all appear to have seen better days. Another open entry in the rear of the house grants a clearer perspective on the likely condition of the main living space.

Even before sliding the door further ajar, the smell of mold and mildew is overwhelming. A mattress lies rotting on its fame, on top of that a bright red pillow chair is turning black with decay. The ceiling, aside from one stalwart patch, has all fallen in on the room.

The home is owned by a Salem man, but there hasn’t been any regular occupancy in a while. In the intervening time, it’s become the “creepy house” for local youth, said one neighbor. Students from nearby Claggett Creek Middle School dare each other venture inside, others abscond with schoolmates’ backpacks and notebooks at school and then toss them into one of the open doors meaning the victim has to summon up the courage to retrieve them, he said.

Vacant and abandoned properties are not an albatross around the neck of Keizer as much as other cities, but when problems do arise, city officials don’t have the tools to correct the problems that some other jurisdictions do.

“It’s difficult because whenever we are dealing with property rights, we have to walk a fine line,” said Community Development Director Nate Brown.

At any given moment, Keizer Code Enforcement Officer Ben Crosby is trying to oversee activity at about six vacant or abandoned homes and the livability issues that tend to crop up around them.

“Typically, we have two types, ones that are being foreclosed on and then empty rentals,” Crosby said.

Attending to the needs of the properties is only one of Crosby’s many duties and he splits his time between working for the city and the Keizer Police Department.

While the problems occurring at the Sieburg home are relatively low-key and the structure itself appears unsafe for any occupancy, Keizer police ended up clearing out squatters at two other abandoned homes in 2017.

In February 2017, KPD officers executed a search warrant on a home at the corner of 14th Street Northeast and Mistletoe Loop Northeast. Two sisters and their families along with others were found inside. Crosby found solid waste violations, piles of trash in and around the home and a busted pick-up with expired plates as some of the most prominent violations. The women were cited for criminal trespass and hit with $35,000 fines. The house had been in foreclosure.

In August 2017, police rousted squatters from a home on Rivercrest Drive North where a woman had not only moved into a foreclosed home, but also began subletting other spaces inside and running a daycare on the premises. By the time police were able to get a search warrant, the occupants were in the process of creating additional, walled-off living spaces in the garage.

The problem is two-fold, one that Keizer doesn’t have much say in and the other which could allow the city to track the problem better if the city council chose to adopt new ordinances regarding such homes.

The first problem is tracking ownership.

“In some of the cases, the bank starts the foreclosure process and starts sending notices to the families who abandon the home knowing they aren’t going to be able to pay for it,” Crosby said.

That leaves the property in limbo. While the family might still have their name on the deed, the bank typically isn’t in any rush to assume ownership and all of the associated maintenance costs. Even if the city had the authority to hit the owner with penalties or fines for excess trash, noxious vegetation or disrepair, it would soon become a question of where to send the bill and no assurance that it would ever get paid.

It would also require the city to adopt an ordinance enumerating the standards that must be abided by and the requisite penalties for noncompliance. Keizer doesn’t yet have such an ordinance.

The closest the city got was a discussion at a Planning Commission meeting in August 2015. Commissioners considered an ordinance that would have put standards in place along with fees and fines, but it never made it to the city council. In retrospect, Brown thought the city had the cart before the horse. The proposed ordinance even included watering expectations, but commissioners balked at that.

“We kind of threw everything into it and when the legal department took a look at it, we realized it wasn’t going to happen,” Brown said.

Brown said recent discussions about other aspects of the city’s development code have tried to address precisely what current residents want to see when properties are developed, but those have also run into headwinds. For example, a discussion regarding establishing a public amenity fee on new and remodeled commercial properties died at the feet of the Keizer City Council amid pushback from the business sector.

Brown said he’s open to directing some resources to addressing the question of what is acceptable as far as vacant properties, but even those simple discussions quickly devolve into a question of money and staff time.

“We can talk about things like specific penalties, but any time you are dealing with enforcement, you are dealing with expenses for staff to have the time to do it and possibly more if it ends up in court,” Brown said. Penalties could be made stiffer for repeat offenders within an ordinance.

Keizer could also look into creating vacant home and rental registries. Creating such a database would allow the city, and specifically Crosby, to check in on homes on the list to make sure they are up to snuff. The registry would also include a point of contact for when things go awry.

According to the website for the Center for Community Progress, such registries can be both a carrot and a stick. Some have employed graduated fees for every year a property is vacant in hope of motivating owners to act more quickly and get them occupied. Others offer to rebate some of the registry fees when buildings are restored and put back to use.