AUSTIN, Texas — A week after Austin landlords announced their apartment complex was “safe to return,” tenants say there is still mold growing in their homes.

What You Need To Know

  • Dozens of Rosemont at Oak Valley renters have been living in temporary housing since August

  • Preliminary mold assessments found visible mold and moisture in at least two units under repair

  • Housing advocates say management has not conducted the proper mold tests

  • Owners recently announced most of the apartments are complete and safe to return to

This is after months of disputes with the owners and managers for more renters rights and better conditions following February’s freeze.

Tenants at Rosemont at Oak Valley say they are still waiting for answers after waiting months to move back into their apartments after being displaced because of storm damages.

Kecia Prince is currently staying at a Airbnb on South Congress. It’s the third temporary housing she’s had to move into since August.

“We’re no better off than we were in July. We don’t know any more than we know in July,” she said.

Prince says her scheduled walkthrough was canceled because her apartment wasn’t ready.

“The supposed walkthroughs that are supposed to be happy occasions are like boxing matches,” she said.

Her apartment was one of dozens that still had water damage and mold after the former management company failed to properly fix it the first time around.

And now, Prince says, it’s happening again.

“After all this, this is where we’re at!” she exclaimed.

The nonprofit BASTA has been working with residents to negotiate and communicate with the owners, the Strategic Housing Finance Corporation of Travis County.

“Families want to move back in and when they get that call that it’s ready, they’re super excited,” said project coordinator Gabby Garcia. “What they don’t know is what is lurking behind the walls.”

Garcia says many of the homes SHFC claims are “finished” have not been properly tested for mold.

BASTA hired a mold assessment company and its report “confirmed the presence of mold in several areas sampled.”

“It’s very likely that a lot of these apartments weren’t fixed correctly.”

Spectrum News 1 contacted SHFC CEO Patrick Howard for comment.

In an email, he wrote all the units being repaired were tested for moisture and microbials and the results came back negative. He says SHFC never agreed to doing mold testing.

“SHFC has always been focused on moisture which could lead to mold if not addressed… SHFC conducted moisture mapping, not mold. Those reports have been produced and provided to residents.”

Recently, the SHFC board agreed to improve renters rights and conditions for all the SHFC owned properties, which was a major step in negations at Rosemont.

However, that addendum is not in the current lease management recently gave to Prince.

Howard tells us that’s because lawyers are still reviewing it. Garcia says SHFC needs to stop dragging their feet once and for all or give the job to someone else.

“If they’re not going to actually go through, perform the right tests and ensure that the work is done, then they need to step down," Howard said. 

Prince says while the SHFC board is dragging their feet, families like hers are being dragged through the mud. She says tenants are tired of the excuses and the gaslighting.

“They’re putting lipstick on a pig and calling it pretty,” she said.

Howard says about five or six apartments are still not finished. He says the SHFC board is meeting Monday, Dec. 20 to go over documents with a lawyer.