Sunnyside Up could lose 25 percent of funding from city

Morgantown City Council is working on its upcoming fiscal year budget, and Sunnyside Up could lose 25 percent of its funding, according to to WDTV (Some Sunnyside Up Funding on Chopping Block in Upcoming Morgantown Budget).

On Tuesday night, city council approved the first reading of the new fiscal year budget.

According to WDTV, Sunnyside Up would receive the biggest cut in funding. Council voted 4-3 to reallocate that money into savings.

Morgantown City Councilman Bill Byrne does not agree with the decision:

“It’s a great partnership between the university and the city, and every dollar that we put in, the university matches a dollar. So, we take $25,000 out, we basically are cutting not just $25,000 from the program, from the investment in Sunnyside, but $50,000, because the university is likely to match only what we put in, so it’s not a wise financial move,” said Morgantown City Councilman Bill Byrne.

 

Sunnyside Up Executive Director Jim Hunt told WDTV that he’s confident the organization can work through it, and that he hopes council will reconsider the funding.

Morgantown City Council will meet again March 20.

(source: http://www.facebook.com/SunnysideUpWV)

This past weekend, West Virginia University’s Student Government Association and members of the Greek community teamed up with Sunnyside Up to clean up the neighborhood. Approximately 300 students showed up and collected over 150 bags of trash. Read more about the cleanup from the Daily Athenaeum – “Campus organizations take part in community cleanup.”

Sunnyside Up’s board of directors will meet 7:30 a.m. next Wednesday, March 14 at its offices in the Seneca Center.

– Leann

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Charleston Daily Mail story talks about mold legislation

If you’ve been keeping up with Inspecting Sunnyside, the issues with mold and bedbugs in Morgantown aren’t new to you.

In today’s Charleston Daily Mail, there’s an article about House Bill 4425, which addresses the issue of mold in rental housing.

The full article is available here – Bill tackles continuing mold issue

According to the article:

The state House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill last week that would require landlords to address mold problems when they are reported. It is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Under normal Senate rules, the bill would have to pass the committee by Wednesday to be voted on by Saturday, the last day of the regular session.

One part of the story that’s a bit disheartening is the writers of the original bill said the current version has been watered down. The amended version no longer allows for a tenant to break his or her lease if the landlord does not address the problem and the home is uninhabitable.

Introduced version:

Committee substitute:

I’ll make sure to keep checking on the status of the bill tomorrow and updating when I can.

– Leann

House Bill 4425 passes the House, communicated to the Senate

House Bill 4425, which would would require landlords in West Virginia to address issues of the accumulation of moisture and the growth of mold, passed the House today and has been communicated to the Senate.

The bill was created by West Virginia University Student Government Association Off-Campus Housing Director Earl Hewitt, Carrie Showalter of WVU Student Legal Services and Nancy Key of Environmental Health & Safety.

Last week, members of the SGA traveled to the Capitol to help push for the bill. (West Virginia University students push for statewide bill on mold regulations)

You can follow the status of the bill here – House Bill 4425.

You can read the bill here – HB 4425 Text.

– Leann

West Virginia University students push for statewide bill on mold regulations

Today’s Daily Athenaeum had a follow-up article on the West Virginia University Student Government Association’s progress on getting legislation passed on mold regulations.

According to the article (“Student orgs advocate for safe housing bill“), more than 30 students from the SGA and Student Advocates for Legislative Advancement traveled to the Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. to push for House Bill 4425.

House Bill 4425 would amend and reenact §37-6-30 of West Virginia State Code. It would require a landlord to “address issues of accumulation of moisture and the growth of mold; and requiring the landlord to perform mold remediation in accordance with professional standards.”

The exact wording to be added if passed would be:

(8) Maintain the premises in such a condition as to prevent the accumulation of moisture and the growth of mold and to promptly respond to any notices from a tenant. When the accumulation of moisture in the dwelling unit materially affects the health or safety of any tenant or authorized occupant, the landlord may require the tenant to temporarily vacate the dwelling unit in order for the landlord to perform mold remediation in accordance with professional standards.

The lead sponsor for House Bill 4255 is Tiffany Elizabeth Lawrence (D-Jefferson). It is also sponsored by Ryan Ferns (D-Ohio), Barbara Evans Fleischauer (D-Monongalia), Tim Miley (D-Harrison) and Jim Morgan, (D-Cabell).

The bill was introduced to the house on February 6, but no other action has been taken yet.

I’m going to keep following up with this bill. Hopefully the WVU students will have an impact on legislators and some action will be taken.

– Leann

WVU’s SGA talks about mold legislation

In today’s Daily Athenaeum, there’s an article about Student Government Association Off-Campus Housing Director Earl Hewitt’s progress on introducing mold legislation (SGA pushes for safer housing laws).

I talked to Hewitt a few weeks ago about how mold is a major issue with off-campus housing in Morgantown. You can read that post here.

West Virginia has no legislation regarding tenants’ rights when it comes to mold.

Hewitt told the DA:

“Students can get sick and have to move out of their homes, but still have to pay rent because nothing is holding landlords liable. The bill encompasses a lot about mold and its effects on residential housing, which has been one of the biggest issues on campus in the past few years.”

According to the article, the bill would “require landlords to offer alternative housing up to 10 days for tenants who suffer medical conditions due to inhalation of mold or force them to renegotiate the lease agreement.”

The bill would also require that mold that is less than nine square feet would have to be cleaned with a disinfectant and moisture would have to be removed with humidifiers.

The DA also spoke with Nancy Key, WVU environmental health and safety specialist. Key said that students need to recognize the signs of mold and report them to their landlords immediately because living around mold can lead to respiratory irritation and other more serious problems to those allergic.

So what does mold look like? Well, it can be small like this:

(photo credit: http://katysexposure.wordpress.com)

While that may not look threatening, Key told the DA, “Just because it doesn’t look bad, doesn’t mean you’re safe. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize because it’s been painted over.”

Painting over mold is not the solution.

If left untreated, mold can spread like this:

(photo credit: www.apartmenttherapy.com)

Ever experienced mold problems in a rental unit? Let me know in the comments.

– Leann

The Players: Student Government Association – Part 1

West Virginia University’s Student Government Association is an elected group that “serves as the student’s direct voice to the WVU administration,” according to the group’s website.

The SGA meets 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday in the Mountainlair Hatfields B Room. These meetings are open to students so that they can voice their concerns.

The SGA is comprised of a board of governors and executive officers. Executive officers are in charge of different areas that affect students such as:

  • Student Organizations
  • Off-Campus Housing
  • Greek Liaisons
  • Recruitment and Retention
  • International Student Liaison
  • Diversity
  • Wellness
  • Athletics
  • Neighborhood Associations
  • Residential Affairs
  • Safety
  • Transportation

Obviously the most relevant person to talk to for this blog is the director of off-campus housing, Earl Hewitt. Hewitt is a junior engineering major from Indiana, Pa. He’s also a licensed Real  Estate salesman in Pennsylvania, so he’s very familiar with housing issues.

Last week, I met with Hewitt to discuss what he thinks are some of the biggest issues with off-campus housing.

He said there are two main problems with off-campus student housing in Morgantown:

  1. mold
  2. bed bugs

Let’s talk about mold first – the reason it is such an issue is that there’s no legislature on it here like in other states. Hewitt said only five states have mold-related legislation at this time.

Students want to break leases over mold, he said. But because there’s no legislation, they are having to move home for health reason and still pay rent because their landlords won’t remove the mold. While there’s no link to mold causing diseases, exposure to large amounts can cause illnesses.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, indoor mold can trigger allergies or allergy-like symptoms in the upper respiratory system. The most common symptoms are:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Cough
  • Wheezing/breathing difficulties
  • Sore throat
  • Skin and eye irritation
  • Upper respiratory infections (including sinus infections)

Over the past four months, Hewitt has been working with Carrie Showalter of WVU Student Legal Services and Nancy Key of Environmental Health & Safety (Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, Indoor Air Quality) to write legislature related to mold and trying to contact delegates.

Now on to bed bugs – the reason this can be a problem is that it’s quite an expensive problem to fix, especially if the place is already furnished, Hewitt said. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, to remove bed bugs, you must “heat infested articles and/or areas through to at least 113 ºF (45 ºC) for 1 hour. The higher the temperature, the shorter the time needed to kill bed bugs at all life stages.”

And because I’m getting itchy writing about it, I feel it’s only fair that I show you what an adult bed bug looks like.

(photo from http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/dk1022.html)

There’s also a bed bug registry to find out if there’s been infestations in specific areas or even hotels.

If you live in Morgantown, have you experienced any issues with mold or bed bugs? Please comment and let me know!

Hewitt had many interesting things to say about the quality of housing in Morgantown, but I’m going to save that for the next post. Please check back!

-Leann