Family Displaced by Mold

It is heartbreaking to see the number of families impacted by the devastating effects of toxic mold. Here's the story of one family struggling in Berwyn, Illinois.

Mold Displaces Berwyn Mom, Children

BERWYN, Ill. (CBS) -- It can grow just about anywhere and make you cough, sneeze and wheeze.

Mold is so bad in one suburban home that inspectors forced the parents and seven siblings living there to leave.

You can see it taking over the walls and other surfaces. The family was getting federal help to rent the place, but because it's unsafe, the program canceled their lease.

What will the family do now? CBS 2's Pamela Jones reports.

Genevieve Wilson-James and her husband have seven kids. Five of them suffer from severe asthma, an illness they say was made worse by black clouds of mold darkening the walls of their home.

"We're coughing and can't breathe, and the children can't breathe constantly," Wilson-James said.

From the outside their Berwyn home looks normal, but the family says water floods the basement every time it rains.

The Section 8 program allowed the family to rent the home and sent an inspector to take a look July 8. That inspector found the conditions "life-threatening" and gave the landlord 24 hours to remove and replace all the damaged drywall, plus fix the foundation.

"There was mold, and they also noted that there was some water seepage in the basement foundation, so those were considered life-safety issues," Housing Authority for Cook County spokesperson Lorri Newson said.

A Berwyn inspector said he found the same thing. His report listed mold even growing on a mattress.

Section 8 policy required the family to leave the danger immediately because the problems weren't fixed. A charity found room for them at an area motel, but their time here runs out in a few days.

"The 22nd, we're on the street. No one's going to take me and my husband and seven children into their house," Wilson-James said.

The landlord said the home only flooded twice this year during torrential rains and he was unaware of the mold.

He says his crews have cleaned it up, and replaced the drywall as of Friday.

Meanwhile, Housing Authority for Cook County found another potential house for the family. Right now, there are some 11,000 families renting under Section 8 in Cook County. In 689 cases, families were told to leave homes deemed dangerous by inspectors.

To view the CBS news article and accompanying video, click here.