Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More obstacles revealed in effort to make Mather cottages habitable

Mold, asbestos and lead paint, oh my!

The 35 cottages out at Mather Community Campus seem closer to being condemned today than ever again being inhabited. But the expectation that some of the cottages can and will be restored to house homeless families before spring abides.

A report in the Sacramento Bee tells us ...
Some [of the cottages] have extensive mold, a county analysis showed. It's not clear how the county planned to deal with lead paint and asbestos, [Rancho Cordova] Councilwoman Linda Budge said.
Still, hope of getting some of the cottages in shape such that homeless families can move in is in play, though not before New Year's day.  Word of where the money might come from to make needed restorations has not been forthcoming, though it is known that the Winter Shelter Task Force hopes to hold a fundraiser to boost the pool of funds to meet the need to keep homeless people warm and safe.

At the end of October, placing families, totalling 105 individuals, was a big part of the task force's plan to shelter the county's homeless during the chilly season, which runs from mid-autumn till the beginning of spring.

That hope met a speed bump soon thereafter when Rancho Cordova officials piped in, saying the cottages were uninhabitable due to having been pillaged and vandalized, and then left such that many were despoiled by mold. The officials said that $105,000-worth of repairs and appliance-replacement costs would need to be met to make the cottages inhabitable.

Now we learn that there are health concerns relating to asbestos and lead paint, both of which present dire health risks, especially to children.  Asbestos fibers cause lung impairment that can lead to death.  Per wikipedia, lead paint "is especially damaging to children under age six whose bodies are still developing. Lead causes nervous system damage, hearing loss, stunted growth, ADD, ADHD and delayed development."

Online comments today by readers at the Bee webspace were polarized. tonid123 wrote, "These 'cottages' (former military housing) are VERY unsafe. They have been completely ransacked by thieves. They have missing/broken windows, exposed wiring, highly covered in mold etc. It would be putting people, especially children, in a LOT danger to stay there without a lot of work being done first."

Perspicacity wrote, "I would suggest that the cottages would certainly be safer then sleeping under an overpass, in a culvert or in a tent with the weather in the mid 20's.. It wouldn't take much to make them livable and safe."

Edmondburke [son of Loaves & Fishes' Advocacy Program Director Joan Burke] wrote, "The city and county need to put aside all of their self-serving anti-homeless ordinances, zoning restrictions, and knit-picking to alleviate suffering and save lives. And SHAME on anyone who gets in the way of making that happen."

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