Residents claim they're living in unsafe conditions at east Charlotte apartment complex

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Holes in walls, trash tossed everywhere and black mold.

Residents in the Avalon Heights apartment complex in east Charlotte said they're living in unsafe conditions.

Multiple parents said the apartments are even making their kids sick.

Mother Whitli Smith said, "I never would have signed up for me and my kids to live like this, ever."

Smith didn't want to show her face, but she did want to show what more than $1,000 a month buys at her apartment complex.

She opened the door to a closet where there was a large hole in the wall.

She said spiders are a consistent problem and her young daughter had to be hospitalized after she suffered from several serious bites.

Mother Corretta Lewis said she worries about her son's health, "It's mainly the mold. He has severe asthma, so it leaves him in a state where he wheezes a lot."

She is one of the three mothers who invited Channel 9's cameras into their apartments to show us their health concerns.

The biggest problem we saw was black mold.

The mother who lived in one of those units said maintenance workers tried painting over the mold. However, when we visited her, the mold was growing right back through the paint.

The problem was especially worrisome because the ledge of the window where it was growing was in the bedroom where a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old sleep.

Some residents said they’ve put in as many as 15 work orders in five months, so on Monday, they turned to Channel 9 as a last resort.

When we tried to talk to property managers, they locked the door.

Moments later, another resident walked up with her own concerns.

As she angrily knocked on the locked door, she said, "They're going to have to do something or they're going to have to pay my heating bill and electric bill."

Rather than talk to her or us, the onsite mangers called police.

When an officer showed up, he told Channel 9 it was acting in accordance of the law.

"It's that person's residence, it's their home. So, they can invite people in," said the officer.

The regional property manager, Sandy Diaz, called Channel 9 back Monday evening.

She said the previous manager wasn’t loca. She said now that she’s overseeing the property, she’s much more aware of the problems and has visited the site in person.

Diaz told Channel 9 she feels bad for the residents and said she would bring in extra workers to resolve the concerns.

Diaz also said she understands it’s not going to be easy and everything won’t be fixed overnight, but she said she will make sure she takes care of the residents.

"I would hope they would try to fix the community up and make it livable for families, because right now, it's not suitable," said Lewis.

Smith told Channel 9 she can't get out by breaking her lease because she'll hurt her credit and she's trying to save up for a house.

The residents said they've all reached out to the Mecklenburg County Health Department, so we are also asking inspectors if there is anything the county can do to help worried families.

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