Latasha Arnold is a tenant leader at Madison Chase Apartments, a low-income housing complex in West Palm Beach. For fighting for her family's health and safety, she and her young daughters are now being displaced and need emergency support to help cover relocation costs. Any amount you can contribute will go to help relieve these stressful times and make the holidays a little brighter for the Arnold family.
For the past few years, Latasha has seen the conditions in her apartment go neglected and requests for critical repairs ignored. When she complained about mold, the maintenance workers would only slap on a fresh coat of paint, literally covering up the problem. In the meantime, the health of her three year old daughter has begun to deteriorate rapidly. In the last year, she's gone to the ICU three times with critical upper respiratory conditions and now takes breathing medications.
Latasha didn't sit by though. She took hundreds of dollars out of her own pocket to pay for a licenced company to conduct a mold test, one that confirmed dangerous levels of airborne toxic black mold (stachybotrys) in her unit. In response, she immediately filed a complaint with Palm Beach County code. But the code officer ignored all of the violations, looking the other way from the leaks, non-working smoke detector, and observable toxic mold all throughout her apartment. Instead of relief, the code officer, Deborah Wiggins, only gave Latasha condescending advice to keep her apartment clean.
But Latasha had enough, and bravely contacted the local news to take her fight public. As a result, Palm Beach Beach code enforcement quickly reversed its earlier stance and slapped unsafe housing violations on her landlord, Starwood Property Trust, the largest real estate developer in America. Three weeks later, Latasha and her family are now in a hotel, waiting critical mold remediation on her unit, so she and her family can return.
Unfortunately Latasha has just received some troubling news: after all of the neglect and harassment, her landlord has stated that they will not renew her annual lease, which is up in January. Although this is a clear act of retaliation, legal counsel has informed us that this is perfectly legal under Florida Statute 83. Renewing a lease is always optional. Tenants have few rights in this landlord paradise.
Latasha is simply standing up for her rights and taking care of her family. The reward for her courage? She is now being displaced. The holiday times are stressful enough without having to worry about finding a new place. Now, due to her landlord's negligence, her family is now sitting in a hotel, and dealing with the stress of finding new housing. She is now desperately searching for new affordable housing in this county, where there hardly any is available.
How You Can Help
We, in the Palm Beach County Tenants Union, are working to help Latasha find new housing and raise relocation money in the meantime. She needs whatever support she can get for initial moving expenses, security deposit, first and last month's rent. All money goes directly to Latasha's account, we don't touch a dime. Please help our comrade Latasha and her children stay afloat in these difficult times. Any amount helps.
Note: The Palm Beach County Tenants Union is a 501c3 tenant organization and your gifts or donations are absolutely classified as a deductible charitable donation on your federal income taxes. Again, all contributions go directly to Latasha Arnold.
Also please call, email, or FB message Starwood Property Trust
Demand that they do the right thing and renew Latasha's lease. She shouldn't be punished for this company's negligence that's endangered the life and well-being of her family.
Corporate Office #: 415.247.1220
Tell them you want to leave a message about Madison Chase and Latasha Arnold
Their CEO Barry Sternlicht is a Forbes 400 billionaire (worth $1.8 billion). He has more than enough money to fix all of the moldy units in his housing complexes, and it wouldn't make a dent in his net worth. Demand he do the right thing.
CEO Barry Sternlicht
Email: [email redacted]
Love and solidarity,
- Tammy Nguyen
- Josephine Mulcahy