BELLE GLADE, Fla. - Children being bitten by rats, their home infested with cockroaches and walls covered with mold. That’s what a family is dealing with at a housing complex in Belle Glade.
“It’s disgusting and it should not happen,” said Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay.
McKinlay is sounding the alarm about the conditions at the Okeechobee Center, a USDA rural housing complex.
“The inside part is getting a little bit too much moldy inside,” said Susana Roman, who has lived in the complex for 15 years.
Roman says she’s battling against cockroaches and rodents, and mold throughout the home.
“I already did everything that I could think of but they still keep coming back,” Roman said.
After complaints, McKinlay toured a home across the street and says a family with three kids is living in deplorable conditions.
“I actually observed rat droppings on the sheets of their bunk beds and they woke up to rats chewing on their feet,” McKinlay said.
The walls are also covered in mold, and we’re told a one-year-old had an infestation of cockroaches in his ear canal.
McKinlay has reached out to Senator Marco Rubio’s office and the USDA.
“No family should have to live like this,” McKinlay said.
The USDA has since contacted the Belle Glade Housing Authority. The executive director, Alan Sullivan, claims his office was first told about the problems in March. He says each family moves into a clean and bug-free home.
“If they don’t run their air conditioner and if they don’t keep their house very clean then problems can develop,” Sullivan said.
Now, Sullivan is taking action and preparing a new home for the family.
“We probably should have stayed on top of it instead of waiting for the tenant to respond we should have responded quicker,” Sullivan said.
The Belle Glade Housing Authority is now looking into other homes and complaints, but claims this is not a widespread issue.
McKinkay says she’s also asking the USDA Rural Housing Administration to do a complete inventory of rural housing units under their jurisdiction in Florida.