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Extensive mold problems have Inkster residents, protesters calling for resignation of public housing executive

Posted at 7:04 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 19:16:48-04

INKSTER (WXYZ) — Inkster's public housing director Paul Bollinger declined to say when the last time HUD inspectors visited the apartments at Canterbury Estates where two babies from the same family died in less than two years.

RELATED: Silent killer? Couple believes toxic mold led to the deaths of 2 babies

"I didn't think it was going to be to the point where we'd lose another baby," said Tyrell White, the father of Kivonni White who was three-weeks-old when he died in 2018 and Khalani White who died last week. She was just 11-months-old.

Tyrell, along with the childen's mother, protesters and other people who live in Inkster's public housing believe exposure to dangerous mold is what caused the deaths of both children.

The results of Khalani's autopsy are still pending. And a spokesperson for the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office indicated that "a cause of death cannot be determined" in Kivonni's case.

But the children's mother, Shavontae Melchor, said she complained about mold in her first apartment even before Kivonni died. And after his death, the housing commission moved her and her family to another unit in the same building where they soon discovered the same problem.

A sample of mold from the family's kitchen ceiling in the last unit they lived in was tested and it was determined to be Chaetomium - a toxic mold commonly found in water-damaged homes.

Tyrell said he was arrested after his son's death in 2018 and Child Protective Services (CPS) took the couple's older children away during the investigation. Tyrell was later released and never charged.

And days ago when Khalani died, Tyrell and Shavontae said they never heard from Inkster Police or CPS. And believing that the mold also caused Khalani's death, the couple wants an investigation, but there doesn't appear to be one this time.

The couple now left wondering who will help them find out what caused Kivonni's death and now the death of the sister he didn't live long enough to meet.

Inkster public housing commissioners held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss the deaths of the babies and begin to work on a plan to ask residents in all of their public housing developments about any problems that may pose a health risk.

Paris Jones, a former employee of the housing commission turned activist, said they are pushing the commission to authorize a Section 8 voucher for the family so they can move out of the hotel where the commission is currently housing them.

"Our number one goal is making sure Mr. White and Ms. Melchor are taken care of," Paris said. "Our number two goal is to get Paul Bollinger out of Inkster. He does not belong here. He has no compassion for the people. He does care about the children or senior citizens."

"There was children getting sick, going to the hospital and nothing ever happened," said Andrew Carter, a former police officer who heads up the Residents Council for Inkster public housing. "We need someone here in housing that cares about the people in housing. This executive director don't care."

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan's 13th District fired off a letter to Bollinger Wednesday, demanding answers to a series of questions, including the status of over $5 million in money from HUD to improve and update Inkster's public housing.

"It makes me angry," the congresswoman told 7 Action News. "We need people to stop waiting. I mean you're sitting on this money. Again, this is public money that is supposed to be used to protect families and to create a safe home environment for everyone."

Congresswoman Tlaib has given Bollinger until July 31 to provide answers to her questions that are detailed in her letter below.

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