Northeast Houston residents dealing with mold, leaks, rat droppings in apartments begging for help

Some residents in northeast Houston say the mold, leaks, clogged sewers causing toilets to overflow into their apartments, and even rat droppings in their homes have gotten out of control. They say they're living in conditions hazardous to their health, and they fear for their and their children's safety.

Residents in the Sterlingshire Apartments say they realize they live near Mesa Road and Tidwell, but they say it feels like it’s a world away from acceptable living conditions in a city as prosperous as Houston.

"These are inhumane conditions. No human being should be forced to live like this," says Community Activist Quanell X. "Even though these residents are low-income residents they are still human beings. What we have witnessed today is the worst case of a slumlord I have ever seen in my history as an activist."

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"How can they do this to us?" asks one woman.

Tour a number of the apartments in the Sterlingshire Apartment complex, and you won’t likely forget what you see, such as water leaks that have soaked through wet walls leaving holes, black mold even in carpeting, roaches, and rat droppings even inside the stove and on kitchen counters.

"This is a disgrace," Quanell adds. "This is really a crime against humanity."

A number of the residents say they haven’t had working appliances such as a stove or refrigerator for some time, and they say clogged sewer lines often force raw sewage into their apartment.

"They’re having these people live in less than third-world conditions," says Quanell. "These are inhumane conditions. Not even a dog would be allowed to live in this apartment without the homeowners being cited."

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The residents say living in the filth and mold with the unbearable stench is causing them and their children to get sick. 

"I’ve been going through this. My 4-year-old she got diagnosed with asthma here," says resident Fredericka Kinds. "My 2-year-old got diagnosed with asthma here. I took him (a new baby) two weeks ago, and he got diagnosed."

Several residents also say they’re afraid to report the way they’re living because they fear CPS will take their kids away. 

"These people are pretty much being held hostage here in the poor conditioned apartment complex by using forms of retaliation," Dr. Candace Matthews, Executive Director at the Children of Diversity Foster Adoption Agency in Houston, adds.  


"All we’re asking is for city officials, state officials, and government officials to please come over here and take a tour of this apartment complex for yourself and bring a mask with you because you may well be sick and need to go to the hospital before you leave," Quanell says.

So are these HUD violations? FOX 26 has not heard back from the Houston Housing Authority, as of this writing. 

The owner of the Sterlingshire Apartments, issued the following statement to FOX 26 on Thursday: 

"After two years of not being able to evict or enforce leases, we understand that some might be frustrated.

"We hire our own security to patrol the property but unfortunately vandalism and theft are a continual problem. The laundry room and vacant units are a particular problem source, and we do our best to continue to repair broken windows and stolen/damaged property.

"The concerns raised the past two days have never been a problem in the past and the property has never received a citation for these issues.

"When issues are raised to the attention of management, we address them.  It is important to us to take care of our residents.

"One of the units highlighted today is under eviction. That resident would not allow property management to perform maintenance and repairs.

"Other units filmed are vacant. Those units were broken into, vandalized, and then filmed. Management has filed a police report

"The trash highlighted by the complaint videos is on Balsam Drive next to the complex. Balsam Drive is a City of Houston-owned right of way. Though the management company does not own the right of way and does not have any legal responsibility to maintain the right of way, we have paid for a dumpster on the right of way to alleviate the trash concern. We hope to have the city’s help in cleaning and maintaining the right of way now that this issue has been raised to the city’s attention by our residents and these social media videos.

"The good news is that the repairs that were highlighted to management Yesterday and Today are all simple repairs and should not take too much time to complete."

Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis also issued the following statement Thursday saying elected leaders are expected to do a walkthrough of the area that same evening. 

"Honestly, I’m enraged. It should be criminal for a slumlord to force people to live in these unthinkable conditions. Worse yet, most of the apartments are home to children. Children should have the opportunity to thrive regardless of the ZIP code where they are born. Everyone deserves to live in a safe, healthy and dignified home. It’s a fundamental human right. In Harris County, we’re working on ensuring everyone has access to clean, healthy affordable housing."

The Houston Health Department, on the other hand, says it will definitely investigate complaints of leaks, mold, rats, and other pests. 

They released a statement on Thursday night saying, "The City of Houston received multiple complaints to 311 regarding the Sterlingshire Apartments at 9002 Sterlingshire St. Several City departments investigated the complaints, including Houston Public Works, Department of Neighborhoods, Houston Health Department, Solid Waste Department and Houston Police. The City found several violations needing to be addressed. Sterlingshire has various internal and external violations on the property that are a threat to public health and safety. Houston Permitting issued a red tag stop-work order on June 21, 2022, for repairs underway without the proper permits. The Houston Health Department has been available at the apartment complex for residents to file any complaints regarding interior issues. The Department of Neighborhoods has informed the manager about corrections on the property not meeting compliance. Our investigators are working with management to ensure these repairs are made in a timely manner.  We encourage the community to report any possible health and safety complaints to 311 in order for the City to investigate."