Mouse infestation drives senior out of her apartment

Housing corporation says it will look into her concerns

Bonnie Belec bbelec@thetelegram.com
Published on February 8, 2014
A mousetrap and mouse droppings behind Elizabeth Maddox’s microwave in her
Kenny’s Park apartment. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Elizabeth Maddox doesn’t have any pets, but she’s never alone in her Kenny’s Park apartment in St. John’s.
She hears chewing and gnawing and the pitter-patter of tiny feet  at all hours of the day.

 

Her daughter, Erin Alexander, says it’s mostly at night, but the presence of mice in her mom’s apartment is hard to miss.

“The feces is everywhere,” Alexander told The Telegram Friday morning after visiting the building on Tiffany Lane.

She said she and her mother discovered mouse droppings between the sheets of her mother’s bed and under the cushions of the couch.

“Now she doesn’t even have anywhere to lie down. It’s absolutely ridiculous and not good enough,” she said.

Alexander said her mother is stressed out and sick over the situation and doesn’t even want to be in her own apartment. She said her mother’s blankets and comforters have either been destroyed or need to be drycleaned and sterilized and the couch needs to be fumigated and repaired or thrown out.

Mice feces is clearly visible in the 14 photos accompanying letters the women sent to The Telegram, which were also copied to St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe, St. John’s East MHA George Murphy, the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp. and other organizations.

Alexander and her mother also sent the letters — dated Feb. 5 — to the building’s owner, Northern Property, but they say they aren’t getting any satisfaction.

The letters received by The Telegram were addressed to property manager Sandra Dunn, but contacted Friday, Dunn said she wasn’t the property manager and didn’t have the authority to speak about the situation.

Dunn told The Telegram to contact Yvonne O’Brien, the property manager. She didn’t return a message as of deadline.

Maddox moved into the building in 2009 to be near her husband, who was in long-term care at the Hoyles Escasoni Complex.

He died in March 2010, but she chose to remain living there.

In her letter, Maddox says she has been complaining to Northern Property about the rodent problem for about a year and a half — at least three times in that period — with the last complaint filed on Jan. 22, 2014.

Each time pest control would show up, but the problem hasn’t been rectified. She said in one week she found six dead mice in the apartment.

It has come to the point where Maddox is afraid to be alone there and has been staying with her daughter until the situation is resolved.

“She is in constant tears, mentally exhausted, physically sick and getting more depressed,” Alexander said.

“I went to check on her one day and she was (stood up) off the floor, crying, holding a broom,” she said.

Alexander hand delivered letters to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing this week because it subsidizes her mother’s apartment.

Dennis Kendell, the Crown corporation’s executive director of regional operations, told The Telegram Friday afternoon this is the first time he’s heard of the situation and the office hasn’t received a formal complaint from Maddox or Alexander in the past.

“The first we heard of it was when the daughter came in Tuesday with the letters, and that would normally trigger an inspection,” he said.

Kendell said the corporation has an agreement with the property owner regarding maintenance on the building, and can hold back funding if it finds out the owner isn’t living up to its end of the bargain.

“They have to agree to maintain the property and if we find out they are not, we have the right to inspect it and, if necessary, hold back funding for the units that we subsidize,” said Kendell.

The problem is, if a subsidy is withheld, the housing corporation has to immediately find a place for that person to live, which can pose a problem.

“We only received the letter a few days ago and haven’t been able to set up an inspection that quickly, but we have to, obviously, look into this a little closer,” said Kendell.

Meanwhile, Alexander said she’ll be busy this weekend getting together a petition, which MHA George Murphy suggested would be a good idea.

Murphy told The Telegram he is keeping an eye on the situation.

 

bbelec@thetelegram.com