FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — Several residents at the Hillcrest Towers in Fayetteville want to see more action taken against mold they say is growing in their HVAC systems.

“We have a great location and public housing, and wonderful amenities, but if you can’t breathe, it’s not valuable,” said Jennifer Cole, who said she’s been complaining to the Fayetteville Housing Authority about mold in her apartment since 2020.

According to its website, “The Fayetteville Housing Authority provides safe, quality, affordable housing as a basic human right to build community resilience, improve intergenerational public health outcomes, and increase equitable opportunities.”

FHA is a public agency funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide Public Housing, Section 8 Rental Assistance, Project Based Rental Assistance, and HUD/VASH for homeless veterans.

“Last year, when we turned on the air conditioning vents, we got a lot of condensation and wet floors,” she said. “Then all of a sudden this black stuff started coming out of the top of our HVAC systems.”

She said that black stuff is mold and it’s causing her health problems.

“I feel like I’m drowning every morning when I wake up,” she said. “I’m a heart patient who is very hard to treat with medicine and I have severe allergies and sensitivities to medicines.”

KNWA/FOX24 also talked with another Hillcrest Tower resident who wished to remain anonymous. He had the same black spots around his air vent as in Cole’s apartment.

“I have asthma and bronchitis,” he said. “I’m gurgling, I’m coughing, I’m pitching stuff up. But when I walk to the library, I can breathe.”

Cole decided to pay for a professional mold test for her apartment. The results came back with medium levels of Cladosporium and low levels of Aspergillus/Penicillium.

A mold test requested by FHA of multiple apartments in Hillcrest Towers also found these molds. Some strains can cause allergies, asthma and infections.

Findings and recommendations from the professional mold test obtained by the Fayetteville Housing Authority.

Cole said maintenance workers have cleaned her air vents out multiple times, but the mold keeps coming back.

“Fix the units so that everybody in the building could be safer and breathe better,” said Cole.

“If they take care of the root cause, it takes care of the problem,” said the anonymous resident.

Cole’s report has a recommendation that said “Mold Remediation is Required.” It said EPA-registered antimicrobial chemicals should be used to clean the HVAC units. Cole wants FHA to go further and replace the HVAC units causing problems.

FHA Board Chair Melissa Terry said they consulted the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD General Engineer, Edmond J. Allard, said in an email to Terry, “You should ensure your procedure meets what’s listed in the HUD brochure (on mold), but you needn’t go beyond that, to those extra measures in the Cole report.”

He said FHA should specifically use the “Respond” section of the brochure. It has eight bullet points of things that need to be done to address mold issues. Bullet number five says, “Clean mold off non-porous surfaces with a weak solution of bleach and water.”

Terry said this is what they will continue to do moving forward to address any mold complaints from residents.

This week, Cole posted on her Facebook page asking for anyone who has affordable housing to let her know so she can try and find another place to live. But for her and the anonymous resident, leaving Hillcrest Towers isn’t an easy option.

“You shouldn’t have to go in a time like this where there is no housing in Fayetteville,” said Cole.

“If I get kicked out, I’m going to be homeless again,” said the anonymous resident. “I did that for 12 years and that was the last time. I’m not going to do that again.”

Cole said she is also actively seeking a lawyer to see if any legal action can be taken on behalf of her and any other Hillcrest tenants dealing with mold issues.