Note: I had original taken down this post at the request of the judge in Shannon’s case, but this is my site, and I have decided to share this information. A great injustice is being done to an innocent family, and I have a right to share it with the public. My actions should have no bearing on litigation against Habitat for Humanity.
Through my work shipping out Black Mold Exposure DVDs, I have recently met someone whose story I must share with you. Shannon contacted me and was quite out of sorts, to say the least, due to her long-standing chronic illness caused by a recently discovered, but long-standing toxic mold problem. The tale is becoming more and more common, but this poor soul has it much worse than most mold sufferers I’ve come across, due to her extremely difficult circumstances. Shannon is the mother of three daughters, one of which has suffered the entire 14 years of her life from cerebral palsy caused by shaken baby syndrome (SBS) at the hands of her father. When she received the news in 2009 that she’d be getting some help from Habitat for Humanity in the form of no interest on a condo, which was not without its own pile of unforeseen difficulties, these and black mold in her basement were not what she’d bargained for.
At this moment, stuck in the prison of her moldy Habitat for Humanity home, Shannon is in that “every day is the worst day of my life” period of mold illness. I have been there, and I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst of enemies. Yet, since she discovered the source of the problem, she has taken every measure to remedy the problem, including doctor’s visits, mold testing, more doctor’s visits and testing, contacting Habitat for Humanity to fix the damage, and ultimately seeking reparations (suing) from them after they failed to act.
Her symptoms have been:
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight gain
- Severe depression
- Digestive distress
- Constant headaches
- Vision loss
- Skin rashes
- Rapid heartbeats
- Hair loss
- Memory loss
- Brain fog
- Difficulty walking (she has been relegated to the first floor because of this)
Let me just say right here and now, like so many people who suffer with these multisystem idiopathic symptoms, Shannon was given a real runaround by her doctors. For her this went on for two years with no real answers. As in my own experience, the most pain associated with this condition is the despair that comes with the uncertainty in diagnosis. So without a doubt, when Shannon started to narrow down black mold as the culprit for her illness, with the help of her father’s experience as well as allergists that were a little more knowledgeable on it, she immediately began to experience a great relief in her mental stability.
Like myself, Shannon’s a “fixer,” and if she knows there’s a problem, she won’t rest until she has done everything in her power to fix it. This is what’s necessary and more when you’re dealing with black mold. The source of the mold (a leak in the basement) was discovered right when they moved in (Dec 2011) after the completion of an arduous 400 hours of required work on the Habitat condo (which was supposedly this wonderful “gift”). Soon after moving in (after much confusion with move-in dates that left her homeless for a time), being a vigilant person, she noticed and immediately reported the leak to her dubious benefactors. They, like the wheels of justice, sat mired in inaction and bureaucracy, as the unknowing inhabitants began to suffer the consequences over the next four years. And as the victims lapsed into ownership of the condo, they remained unaware of the myriad complications that would result from Habitat for Humanity’s failure to repair this leak.
A progressing problem. Top: 1 month after moving in; Middle and Bottom: Holes left for years in ceiling after Habitat representatives “examined” and failed to find source of the leak
A mold problem is inevitable when there is a leak in any house. Action to remedy it must be swift and thorough. Now Shannon continues to suffer both physically and financially at the hands of this ineptitude and disregard. She has lost her job, her health, her dignity, her ability to be an effective parent, and much of her will to live. But still, by God’s grace and with a great resolve, she soldiers on, now participating in an effective litigation. She seeks to receive reparations and justice for what happened to her family because of this Trojan house that has plagued them these past few years.
When mold is somewhere, it’s everywhere. This is where it spread to the main floor.
Shannon, like so many others, thus far is the victim of a system that doesn’t work. Her situation is an example of how poor construction and irresponsible management of houses can lead to terrible financial, emotional, and physical devastation of an entire family. However, if she receives remuneration and just damages, she will become an example of how the system can work for victims of toxic mold. And though no amount of money paid out by Habitat for Humanity will ever make up for the suffering that she and her family have endured, this process will hopefully teach her more about health than she’s ever known, and she will always be more vigilant in establishing an ideal environment for her beloved daughters.
The first casualties: Dyson (age 7) and Maya (blonde).
Pets are usually the first to suffer in a moldy house.
My dog died mysteriously in a moldy house, and so did Shannon’s.
A Call for Charity
In the meantime, though, things are uncertain for Shannon. Being stuck in that house, she suffers daily with bouts of the aforementioned chronic fatigue, muscle pain, soreness, headaches, brain fog, and digestive troubles. We live in a callous world, where even the most generous are wary of giving money to anyone in need (I myself am not innocent of this charge). Realize that this is someone who was extremely successful in her career until she was suddenly stricken with this mysterious illness, and she is responsible along with her husband for taking care of three daughters. And one of these young ladies, whom she loves and cares for very deeply, has special needs! If anyone deserves financial help, it is this woman and her wonderful family.
Just to give you an idea of what this problem can do to you financially, Shannon started with $20000 saved up in the bank, and is now $10000 in debt. She needs your prayers, and your support. Please donate anything you can, right here, to help get her through this transition of litigation, relocation to a new home, and healing.
Shannon’s three girls: Kathleen, Grace, and Chelsea (3 years ago)
Habitat for Humanity Does Not Give Away Free Houses
Shannon wants me to emphasize that she was not given the house right out by Habitat for Humanity. She says, “The gift of the home is solely paying 0% interest and supposedly having safe, energy-efficient, and lasting habitation. I pay a mortgage monthly, homeowners insurance, the water bill, condo fees, the taxes, and any additional fees they tack on each year as the fees continue to grow.” She also clarifies that the reason for receiving the house was not out of charity for being a low-income family. She was very successful before her illness, but she qualified for a Habitat for Humanity house “because [her] daughter is in a wheelchair and [she] was paying more than two thirds of [her] income to housing expenses.”
Just to clarify, she further explains that she needed a handicap-accessible building for her daughter, and there were none to be found in Massachusetts that were large enough for her family. Habitat not only doesn’t give away houses, requiring recipients to help build their own houses (~400 hrs) and pay monthly mortgage and fees, but they also won’t be involved in assisting you unless you have a certain minimum income and a good credit score. On top of this, there are so many other downsides that we’ll get into in later articles. But let’s just say for now, without a doubt, had she known there would be this many difficulties, even without the mold, she would never have agreed to this arrangement with Habitat for Humanity.
We will be featuring her story in more detail over the next couple of weeks. Because she has had such success in litigation (thus far), she has offered to provide us with information on how to sue for mold damage in houses. Also we’d like to get into her experience with Habitat for Humanity a little bit more, and expose the deception behind the process of receiving a Habitat house. Just like game shows and reality TV, the “reality” is never as glamorous as the illusion.