12 On Your Side: Tenant needs help with rodent problem

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A mother of two calls 12 for help with expediting a transfer to a different apartment because of a rodent problem.

Mice, rats, an opossum... Angie Johnson says she's seen them all, at one time or another, in her apartment, and now she sleeps with a big stick nearby to beat them off!

The Better Housing Coalition says there's evidence of mice - but no rats, and there's no infestation. It says moving a tenant is a complicated and arduous process.

Maintenance workers put traps in every room, behind furniture, in closets all around the apartment Johnson shares with her young daughter and son. Johnson's neighbor says she's also seen rats in her apartment.

Johnson's cell phone captured some of the dead. About 50, she claims, were caught over the three years she's lived here. She says she hears them at night in the cabinets and drawers.

"There was a rat eating through flower and popcorn," said Johnson.

Better Housing Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to improving neighborhoods and putting people with little or no income into affordable housing, says it installed mouse traps, exterminated all its properties and sealed up holes. It says there were never rats.

Johnson says she saw both.

"Big rats, the size of a baby squirrel. Some of them a little bigger. I had an opossum in here," said Johnson.

Her daughter's school social worker emailed us confirmation about the opossum and how Janiya is afraid.

"You can hear them scratching on the walls and stuff," said Janiya.

Johnson believes rodents transported fleas into her home and are the reason her son must use a nebulizer. She says she requested a transfer a month ago, and they keep telling her, next week.

"How many weeks am I going to wait to be simply transferred?" asked Johnson.

Vice President Mary Kay Huss, at B.H.C., talked to me by phone Wednesday night and said nobody wants a child to suffer. They want the family happy. Huss said transfers normally take three weeks, and Johnson's is taking longer, even with everyone on high alert.

Huss didn't say, but Johnson tells me Section 8 pays her $864 a month rent. Johnson had to reapply to move, and the non-profit is apparently working with several third parties to keep the funding in place.

So, Johnson continues to wait... with a big stick.

"(Hits bat in hand) just in case one of them come out. I try to hit them," said Johnson.

B.H.C. agreed to talk on camera but then decided not to. It says Johnson would not give them permission to discuss her case. Johnson says she didn't want them trashing her on TV.

The non-profit issued a statement, instead, that reads in part ... "B.H.C. management is working with Ms. Johnson and all parties involved to address her housing needs, and we are eager to have a resolution soon."

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