Dear Friends, we are currently out of a home and lost all of our personal belongings inside. We could use help. Here is my story:
Spent a little over a month on the road with my wife, Karina, whos is health compromised (autoimmune,) but who has been doing alot better and our 9-year-old daughter, Trinity. We traveled coast-to-coast capturing footage for my forthcoming documentary on Ancient America ...
We were planning to celebrate our duaghets 10th birthday party (along with getting some much needed rest after a month on the road). BBut upon returning home to our rental unit in Northern California, we discovered that our apartment was flooded with water and our personal belongings were damaged... It was devasting!
The carpets were sopping wet with 1 to 2 inches of water, the walls were covered in black and green mold, and our things were destroyed. We immediately gagged as mold spores in the air entered our lungs. My daughter began repetitively sneezing, while my wife and I started coughing...
This is a close up of the mold...
Toxic Black mold had taken over the apartment and along with water damaged all of our belongings.
We searched for the root of the problem and noticed the toilet was leaking causing the flood in the rental unit.
So I called an independent plumber to come and immeditately notified property management.
We didn’t have renters insurance.
Everything was destroyed!
Not only all of our furniture and clothing but also our electronics, family heirlooms, important documents - all damp, moldy and water damaged.
My iMac Pro computer was sitting on the floor in my daughters closet, now submerged in water and surrounded my mold. This is the machine I use to edit videos and conduct business. Another words, my livelihood is destroyed... Our lives are now compromised.
Our most cherished private library book collection which featured many rare, hard to find and now out of print books that we use for our research work was now damp. Even brand new books are soggy and moldy.
Rather than celebrate our daughters 10th birthday when we arrived, she was confronted with losing all of her toys, books, art and clothing. This was a DEVASTATING blow for the child and a MAJOR set back for the family.
The plumber arrived and said the toilet appeared to be worked on in the past.
He showed me how a universal filter valve was added at some point (before we moved in 8 months ago) and the system failed.
He said because the job was done improperly, the universal valve was not trimmed to the standard toilet size, it caused the overflow to happen. It is the responsibility of property management to ensure we had proper working parts and a habitable place to live as per our lease agreement.
You can see here how the universal repalcement valve was not proeprly trimmed to fit the toilet, causing the overflow of water and consequently all the toxic mold.
A not-so-perfrect storm! 100 degree weather in Chico, California made for ta green house effect and our apartment was cooking with very dangerous toxic block mold.
Everything we ever owned is destroyed. Family heirlooms, things we need for our work. I worked out of that apartment.
We had been on the road for a little over a month and just wanted to come home and relax, but instead we were faced with this unexpected disaster.
I notified property management of what the plumber had said and showed them the video I took of him at the toilet clearly explaining the issue.
They asked if I had renters isurance and told me that they were not responsible for damanges to our personal belongings, but informed me that they’ll send maintenance to take a look to fix the leak.
I explained how my wife is autoimmune and further exposure to mold could be detrimental to her health and ours. Property management suggested that stay at a hotel for the night, but they did not offer to pay. To date we have not been reimburst and still living in a hotel.
I developed a chronic cough, red irriated eyes, blurry vision, speech impediment, weird rashes, dizziness and migraines. After being exposed to the mold in the apartment, I collaposed, falling down and almost lost consciousness. I had difficulty speaking. The words in mind would not connect with my mouth. I was stuttering my speech and could not propertly articulate myself.
I was rushed to the hospital...
I received a CT scan and IV.
Bloodwork showed my levels were off. My white blood cell count was abnormally high, suggesting that it was fighting something off.
All of this came about only after exposure to the black mold in the apartment.
To add to all of this destruction, stress and trauma... we are now homeless.
Upon returning to the rental unit the following morning, Thursday, June 24th 2021, My wife, daughter and I discovered that we had all been locked out of our rental unit in Chico, California.
Click here to watch video on my Facebook page
The lock has been changed by property management without proper notice and without providing me a key.
It is my understanding that this is illegal.
California law makes clear that lock-outs are illegal. A landlord shall not prevent the tenant from gaining reasonable access to the property by changing the locks or using a bootlock or similar methods. California Civil Code §789.3(b)(1).
All of our belongings Including but not limited to identification such as our birth certificates, social security cards, passports, sensitive documents, and prescription medicine were all locked inside the unit.
As a result, we were unable to get access inside the rental unit.
We had my wife’s prescription meds inside.
I have to soon lead a tour to Egypt for my tourism business and need my passport, also locked inside.
This negligence is now causing me to take time out of work.
I called 911.
I called the local police, but they refused to accompany me to the apartment where I am illegally locked out.
They say it’s a “housing” issue.
Friends suggest I call legal Services of Northern California. Legal services is understaffed and underpaid, but we are desperate for help so I called them and they recommend that together we called the local police on 3-way. With my on the line, Legal services explained to the police how this is illegal, and I need to be assisted by police and let into the apartment, but the police refused to assist us claiming it was a housing matter.
I called the local authorities. I called the housing department on Thursday but didn’t receive a call back until Monday.
Explained my story. They said they would call back, but have not called back to this day.
Property Managememt had agreed to call me back in two hours, but did not. They were not offering an immeditate rememdy for my family and I. Feeling stonewalled. They simply gave me their lawyer's phone number to contact, but I have concerns talking to a lawyer who has clients best interests in mind. Given that his client did nothing to help my family and I find a place to stay raised concern.
We need proper legal representation.
Last Friday I called over 20 lawyers but no-one seemed interested in taking this complicated case - which involved mold, as an outcrop of the water damange, let alone find one willing to work on contingency.
Lawyers need to make money, so most prefer clients who are either landlords or property managers who typically have enough money to properly retain legal counsel. Mold cases can be complicated and expensive and often take 2-3 years before and resolve.
There are a few prospective attorneys, but they all require an expensive retainers, typically $3,000 to start and $350 per hour.
Our credit cards are nearly maxed out (after investing in the ancient America documentary by traveling across America for 5-6 weeks before returning home). We are financially tapped out.
We would need 3k to retain a legal representation.
The property manager has not made any agreement to put us up or reimburst us for our stay at hotel.
They have breached the lease in providing a habitable place for us to stay. As as result, we are now homeless, and paying out-of-pocket using some money quickly generated from friends and supporters on facebook , but even that money is quickly running out.
We pay about $1200 a month for a two bedroom apartment in Chico, California.
This is about the cheapest it gets in this area. Most apartments require first + last months rent and security deposit. Most two bedroom apapartments outside of Chico cost even more to rent!
It will cost another 3-4K just to have a proper place to live.
We will need to start all over.
We need furniture...beds, kitchen table, a couch. We need to rebuild our lives.
My heavy duty video editing requires a reliable machine, but the $5000 iMac that I use is destroyed.
Between retaining legal representation, finding a home, getting basic furniture, and paying expenses we need about 15 to 20k just to start over with only the bare essentials.
I hate asking for money. But this is an emergency.
We are asking for $9,000 to help us get back on our feet, rebuild our lives. This money will help us get to the position where I can begin doing my work again and generating income to afford to cover the rest of 15 to 20K requirement mentioned above.
- 3k helps retain lawyer
- 3k helps find suitable living conditions, first, last months rent and security deposit
- 3k helps us to pay got hotels and food in interim
If we can get more than 9K, we could certainly use it and it would be a tremendous relief.
Please help if you can.
If you can’t contribute financially please help by sharing this.
My family and I THANK YOU!
***UPDATE JULY 4th *****
With your help we have reached our intial goal of $9,000 in just over 48 hours.
What a humbling experience! Words really can't describe how amazing it was to see so many people we know (and some we didn't know) come together to help us out in our darkest hour.
We are eternally greatful for each and everyone of you that contributed to this campaign.
We have reached our intial goal of $9,000 with your help,
but we are still in the thick of it - with no clear sight ahead.
Our initial goal of $9,000 helps us to secure proper legal counsel to help assist us as well as provides us with sufficient capital to begin finding a new place to live. It also helps us cover some of our out-of-pocket expenses such as temporary living situation via hotel, food, etc.
We have adjusted the campaign goal to $20,000
The next round of funds will help us to get restablished with basic furniture as well as items necessary for work such as a new computer for editing. We may also use these funds to help with unexpected legal fees and other out-of-pocket expenses related to this situation.
Anything above and beyond is appreciated.
Thank you SO much!