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Residents of the Rice Silk Mill sent pictures of mold they say they found in their apartments. They say the infestation is in the vents and is causing illnesses and damage to furniture and personal items.
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The 45-unit affordable housing complex opened in the former A.H. Rice silk mill in 2012.

Rice Silk Mill Tenants Report Struggles With Mold Infestation

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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One tenant had test done on mold in the vent of her unit. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents of the Rice Silk Mill say mold and moisture has caused illnesses and thousands of dollars in damaged items. 
 
Over the last two weeks, iBerkshires has received about a dozen reports from tenants of the Spring Street apartment complex. 
 
Last week, the Health Department cited that mold was found in the vent system.
 
"We didn't realize how severe the issue really was until everybody started talking about it and everybody started coming forward," said one resident, explaining that the tenants had gone to local media in hoping to get some action.
 
This resident has been temporarily relocated through the Christian Center but added that her child with a chronic illness has not been able to live in the unit for a year. She filing a suit against the complex's manager, Berkshire Housing Services Inc. 
 
Rice Silk Mill is a housing development of 45 affordable units that opened in 2012. The $15 million public-private project in the former A.H. Rice mill was touted by then Gov. Deval Patrick as leading the way in downtown-oriented housing development. 
 
But its occupants now say the renovated complex is making them sick. They asked not to be named for fear of retaliation and say efforts to resolve the situation with property managers have been unsuccessful. 
 
The mill is managed by Berkshire Housing. A representative on Wednesday emailed that they could not comment "due to ongoing litigation."
 
The tenant seeking legal action moved to the mill in 2020 with her son, who has a chronic ear condition. He developed middle-ear disease, an infection caused by blockage from conditions like allergies or colds. She believes the mold has exacerbated his condition and caused him to lose 50 percent of hearing in his right ear.
 
She attributed that to contamination within the forced hot-air system, explaining that the ventilation system is connected horizontally and is not separated per unit. Water leaked into the walls and floor of her unit from a hose on an air conditioning unit. She was relocated for five days while it was repaired. 
 
She was emotional as described how her belongings were covered with mold because the infestation was never taken care of properly. Mold specialists have reportedly been brought to the complex as well as Catamount Response cleaning service. 
 
"I have emails begging them to put me in a different property," she said, adding that the housing agency is "well aware" of the issue but "won't take accountability for their negligence." 
 
Director of Public Health Andy Cambi said he was not aware of any mold complaints when contacted last week. The same day iBerkshires contacted him, two inspectors were sent to Rice Silk Mill. 
 
The tenant confirmed that a health inspector came to her unit on Dec. 28 and found mold in the vents. Cambi said mold itself is not cited as a violation but rather the condition of chronic dampness causing it.
 
Tenants have reportedly been speaking to each other about mold issues since January 2023. Many have contacted iBerkshires via phone calls and emails the last few weeks to tell their stories.
 
These included reports of mold infestation across units, a black mold outbreak in a child's bedroom, loss of bedding and other personal items, and illness. 
 
iBerkshires has also been sent photos that tenants have taken of vents, areas and items that appear to have mold on them. 
 
"People who live here are already sick because of this situation and many more are going to follow," one person wrote, reporting an upcoming appointment to be checked for mold toxicity. 
 
"Our family was displaced from our apartment due to mold infestation from negligence due to flooding that had occurred several times while occupying that unit. While living in that unit I developed a serious illness called mast cell activation syndrome," another person wrote. 
 
Mast cells are part of the immune system and can react to foreign substances such as chemicals, fragrances and molds with allergic-type symptoms and inflammations.
 
A close neighbor of the person seeking litigation said they are going through the same situation, having mold in the vents confirmed by Catamount and not being relocated. 
 
She said the issue was deep in the walls and that she had heard of four other units facing the same problem. The tenant said the mold is also in the windows and that management suggested cleaning it with a solution that was not meant to use on the mold. 
 
The tenant reported that many of their family's items have been ruined due to mold and moisture and their son has severe asthma requiring inhalers and medication daily. 
 
"I currently cannot turn on my heat because the mold is growing back on the top of my vents, I have [begun] to put my belongings in storage until I find a place, my children nor I can continue to live here. They are not taking things serious," they wrote. 
 
Another person reported that a "lot of apartments have a large amount of black mold in them that is making the tenants sick." 
 
"Berkshire Housing did have the vents cleaned one or two years ago but they are again caked with black mold. Some tenants have lost their bedding, their clothing, their box spring and mattress due to this. They have sent pictures of the mold in the vents, ceilings and on their personal belongings," they wrote. 
 
"Some tenants have spent several hundred dollars just trying to clean the mold with no luck. Other tenants have even bought air purifiers which show how poor the air quality is in their apartments with no answers or actions being taken. Then there are other tenants who's children are being affected by the air quality even with doctor notes and still Berkshire Housing refuses to take the proper action to remediate the mold completely." 
If you would like to contribute information on this article, contact us at info@iberkshires.com.

Second Chance Composting Comes to Pittsfield

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Second Chance Composting has recently brought their Residential Community Composting Program to Pittsfield.  
 
Memberships are open and ongoing for the 9 South Atlantic Avenue drop off location.  The program runs continuously all year, through all 4 seasons.
 
Memberships start at $9.99 per month, offering unlimited drop off of household food scraps to the location each month.  Members save their food scraps at home, and at their convenience, bring them to 9 South Atlantic Avenue and drop their material into the tote.  Members can come as little or as often as needed each month.  Any and all food and food scraps are accepted, including meat, fish, dairy, bones, and shells.  There are also other membership pricing options available for those who wish to receive finished compost back.
 
In addition to the new Pittsfield location, Second Chance Composting currently has drop off locations in North Adams, Williamstown, and Adams, which have continuous and ongoing membership signups.
 
Second Chance Composting picks up the material every week and it is brought to their MassDEP certified facility in Cheshire to process the food scraps into compost, which is then distributed back to the community to grow more food, flowers, plants, and trees.
 
Those interested in learning more or signing up for a membership can do so by visiting www.secondchancecomposting.com
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