This week, I’m giving readers the floor.
With the sheer amount of mail we receive on a daily, our newsroom wouldn’t sleep if we attempted to respond to it all. However, these two tales came across my inbox and I felt compelled to share them — in part, because I really didn’t know where to begin.
At PW, we give the benefit of the doubt to every case we come across. In this line of work, with all of the situations we meander across, lives we listen to and events we witness, it’s very easy to become a skeptic.
We’re aware that some events and stories we’re sent appear minuscule, and at times, it’s hard to discern whether emotions are distorting the supposed facts being offered. However, when someone takes the time to write to us or multiple other outlets (in the case of the second letter), we’re often willing to shed some light on their experience.
So keep them coming, Philadelphia. No matter who it stands to offend, no matter how nuanced the situation, we’ll try to read them all and chase down the truth accordingly.
This first letter is from a woman who claims that shotty construction and passé oversight from Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections (L&I) left her nearly broke and with bad credit.
Both of these following stories have been edited for tone and syntax.
How two Philadelphia apartments ruined my life
I have always rented apartments. Condo-like, high-rise communities are my favorite rentals. You get a secured building, parking and added amenities, like a weight room, pool, laundry and community event room. Most of these apartments are in good community living areas and range from $1,000 to $1,300 monthly, depending on size.
But this is a story of how these rentals left me $30,000 in debt and with a seven-year ruined credit report, the loss of all my belongings and now the rebuilding of my life.
Bottom line: Water-damaged buildings have become a problem in Philadelphia, whether it's from an old building or new construction. In these particular rentals, the air duct had water damage and was never replaced over years (or maybe decades), causing mold to form and grow. Tenants like myself then moved in and became very sick and ill, and we didn’t know why.
Until visible mold appeared.
Now, is the landlord at fault? Or is it Philadelphia L&I?
When I called L&I, they said they were not able to come out for mold, but they could come out for leaks that cause mold. After a few weeks, the property was examined and I was told my accusations were not true. This forced me to put in a notice to move.
I’m not seeking any damages here, but instead, I’m trying to shine a light on this situation and advocate for tenants like myself and future tenants who may face a similar predicament.
What is being done about mold and water-damaged rental properties in Philadelphia? In a perfect world, we as tenants change the environment we live in and fight to get a law passed for these types of rentals not to be rented to tenants!
– Patricia McIntyre, Philadelphia
This next one allegedly occurred this past Sunday. While I’m not sure that race played a role here, as the writer describes, if this even has a sliver of truth, it’s pretty shocking, Yet, sadly, it’s not surprising, given our current social climate.
The truth about my sister
On Sept. 15, while at Pennsylvania Hospital to visit my sister, who is 60 years of age with multiple illnesses and is not able to walk out without assistance, I was informed by the hospital staff that she was not in the hospital and that they had no information about her whereabouts.
After visiting her for five days along with my brother — we are the only two who care for her needs — I left with nothing but pain, anger and heartache, not knowing what has happened to her. I was not able to [receive] any information or assistance from the hospital staff, security or the nursing supervisor, who all just put it off like it was no big deal. Even after calling the police to file a missing person’s report, hospital staff did nothing at all.
When police did respond and investigate, the officer was informed that she was in the hospital in her same room, but she was not allowed visitors due to her “personal actions.” I was then informed not to enter the hospital or they would arrest me for trespassing!
[This isn’t only about the] protection of our loved ones while in hospital care. The main concern is the treatment and lack of respect displayed on that day. I am an African American male who has worked in the community for over 30 year. I’m currently the director of community outreach for my church and was treated as a criminal.
For two days, we’ve been kept uninformed of my sister’s health status, and the hospital will not return calls. I need help dealing with this situation and need to get the word out. If we were not low-income African Americans in their eyes and were Caucasian, I’d like to believe they would have had a better soft glove approach to this situation.
– Samuel Porter, Philadelphia
What are your thoughts, Philly? Do you have a similar story or one you want to get off your chest? Send it my way: firstname.lastname@example.org.