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Know Your Rights
Source: Make the Road New York
Subject: Health Justice & Access
Type: Press Advisory

Latino Asthmatics Denied Entry to Public Mold Meeting

***For Immediate Release***

More than 40 Latino Asthmatics Denied Entry to Public Mold Meeting

Call on Taskforce to Hold Another Meeting in New York City

Asthmatic Latinos were planning to testify about how mold and asthma disproportionately affect communities of color

New York – At 11AM, 40 asthmatic members of Make the Road
New York, and the Fifth Avenue Committee attempted to attend a public
meeting to urge New York State Mold Taskforce to recommend that State
and City agencies adopt enforceable guidelines around mold. This is the
only meeting of the Taskforce planned in New York City.

Although the participants were quiet and orderly, the
building management referred to them as a "mob", and refused to even
check their identification to see if they were pre-registered even
though many of them were. Most of them went home in disappointed by how
they were treated. One representative, Lourdes Rodriguez, stayed to
read a statement signed by the 40 asthmatics calling on the Taskforce
to hold another meeting in New York City at a more suitable location
which would not discriminate against any member of the public wishing
to attend.

In the New York City Housing Maintenance Code, anything less than
25 square feet of mold is not considered an immediately hazardous

Many of the asthmatics who had hoped to attend were
asking the Taskforce to recommend creating a lower threshold in both
State and City housing code regulations.

Isabel Zarco, a member of Make the Road New York who lives at 193
Stockholm in Brooklyn with her two sons, stated, "I have a lot of mold
on my bathroom ceiling which has given me asthma. I never had asthma
before I lived in this apartment. I’m not able to sleep at night
because of asthma.  I’ve called the landlord and the city, and nothing
has been done because the amount of mold I have is not considered a
violation. The City and the State need to create stronger regulations
to deal with mold. "
The NY State Toxic Mold Taskforce is responsible for
developing recommendations for amending State mold regulations. 
Asthmatic tenants call on the taskforce to recommend that the State and
City adopt enforceable guidelines for safe remediation of mold
problems, better training for city and state employees in agencies
responsible for inspection and remediation, and greater education and
outreach about indoor asthma risks. 
A recent study by Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan
determined that there is a correlation between mold spore counts and
the likelihood of developing childhood asthma. A report by the
Comptroller in September of 2007 states that while citywide, childhood
asthma rates have declined in the past 5 years, in several low-income
neighborhoods such as Bushwick, Ridgewood and Canarsie-Flatlands, rates
have actually increased. Bushwick also has the highest concentration of
open housing code violations in the city. 
In order for the Taskforce to gain a more balanced and
accurate understanding of the indoor mold problem, community members
pushed the Taskforce to expand its membership to include an asthmatic
affected by mold problems from one of the areas in New York most
affected by the problem.