Trashed Greensboro Condominium Advanced Linked To Spike In Bronchial asthma Circumstances? | New proprietor takes over repairs

“I used to be called on this property all the time about roof leaks, mold, cockroach and mouse infestation, and it was very disheartening that there wasn’t much we could do to resolve these tenant problems,” Executive Director Brett Byerly said.

GREENSBORO, NC – The Greensboro Housing Coalition has been concerned about the Avalon Trace Apartments in East Greensboro for years.

“I used to be called on this property all the time about roof leaks, mold, cockroach and mouse infestation, and it was very disheartening that there wasn’t much we could do to resolve these tenant problems,” Executive Director Brett Byerly said.

Until new owners came.

“Avalon Trace had a bad history so I wanted a new name to signal a fresh start,” said new owner Brittany Kielhurn.

Keilhurn renamed the facility Cottage Gardens. She knew what she was getting into at the time of the March purchase.

“If you came here a year ago, the roofs were leaking, the windows were broken, the water pipes didn’t work,” said Kielhurn.

And that doesn’t even describe half of it.

“I remember being out here. There was a baby who was less than a year old and who was hospitalized for more time than he did the first year of his life at home because of respiratory problems,” Byerly said.

“We lifted the blankets in the crib, the crib could have crawled away, that was the cockroach infestation.”

Byerly knew something needed to be done because he believed the dire conditions were directly related to dozens of complaints he received from Avalon Trace residents about breathing problems.

“We were lucky enough to get a grant called Invest Health, and they brought community development workers and hospital workers into a room to talk about projects.”

At this point, the Greensboro Housing Coalition was working with Cone Health on a health study.

“You would expect a 170-unit apartment complex to have 2 or 3 annual visits for a diagnosis of asthma. We found that 30 patients produced 120 visits,” said Byerly. “That was 120 times what you would statistically expect, so the health system had an aha moment working with apartment hunters.”

Cone Health gave their compiled data to UNCG Housing and Community Studies for a further breakdown of the situation of the respiratory problems.

“There are two elements to this: there is the respiratory disease data from Cone Health, and we looked at the individual admissions of patients in emergency rooms in 2016,” said Stephen Sill. He is the director of the Center for Housing and Community Studies at UNCG and Associate Professor of Sociology.

“When we merged two sets of data that represent neighborhood and neighborhood living conditions, we saw hotspots that correlated poor housing conditions and high peaks in asthma cases,” said Sill.

He could narrow the research down even further.

“There have been individual properties like Avalon Trace that we’ve seen a single property with a surge in traffic,” Sill said. “If we take CDC numbers, Greensboro should have one hospital stay per 1,000 people, but at that apartment complex we saw 120 annual visits for the 1 apartment complex, a much higher rate than expected.”

Cone Health says it’s too sweeping a statement to say that Avalon Trace homes were the source of asthma, but it’s fair to say that asthma triggers were found in units.

“While there is no specific thing that can be said to be causing hospitalization, from previous studies we can say that if we remove things like pests and rodents and smoking diseases, those hospitalizations go down, and that’s what we’ve looked at,” Sill said.

Keilhurn says the newly named and renovated complex is going through a lot of positive changes, but there is still a lot to be done.

“We have already replaced 650 windows,” said Keilhurn. “We probably have 50-60 other apartments that we will turn around and re-rent, so we probably expect to hit 100 percent by the end of February or end of March.”

She says health problems should decrease because of the changes she makes.

“We have a regular pest control system in place that replaces roofs and treats water damage and one of the most important things, replace all very old carpets with solid flooring and not have to worry about keeping a carpet clean that is fine for the respiratory system be.”

The City of Greensboro is helping with renovation costs and is particularly working on energy efficiency in Cottage Gardens.

Avalon Trace was previously owned by a foreign Georgia corporation. The city of Greensboro wanted to punish them for breaking the law, but they eventually sold to Keilhurn.

Byerly said there are few real consequences for bad landlords unless tenants sue in a civil court.

Greensboro City says the apartment complex was never convicted, but 11 individual units were at one point. The number of convicted units has dropped to seven, but Keilhurn says they are empty and she is working to fix them.

“It’s really good to see what we’ve done … we still have a lot of work to do.”

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