Sulphur woman: I was evicted for speaking out

by Brandon Richards bio | email

SULPHUR, LA (KPLC-TV) - A Sulphur resident believes she was evicted for speaking out about the living conditions at a local apartment complex.

In November, Amber Meche and Shelly Benglis went before the Sulphur City Council to talk about the living conditions at Town and Country Apartments.

Benglis had been approved for Section 8 at the apartments, but she refused to move in because she was unsatisfied with the living conditions of the two apartment units she was to choose from.

"There was a lot of stuff wrong with it and when we walked into the apartments, you [could] smell the mold," said Benglis.

Benglis asked Meche, a friend, who was then a tenant at the apartment complex, to speak to the city council about the living conditions at the facility. Meche went before the council and said she was concerned about mold and other problems in her apartment.

Just days after speaking to the council, Meche said she received an eviction notice. Meche said she had been a good tenant for as long as she had lived there and could think of no other reason why she was evicted, except for the fact that she spoke out about living conditions at the apartments.

"That's what she (manager) does," said Meche. "If you speak up against her, she throws you out."

According to a report published in the Sulphur Daily News, the manager of the apartments said she was "shocked" after hearing about Meche's comments to the city council. The manager told the newspaper Meche had started "scaring" other tenants. The manager said she had never had any complaints about Meche before this.

Meche and Benglis next appeared before the Sulphur Housing Authority, arguing that Meche's eviction was unfair. The Housing Authority tabled the matter until last week, when it announced unbeknownst to both Meche and Benglis that their problems had been resolved.

Meche and Benglis said they did not get an opportunity to present the latest evidence they had gathered to the Housing Authority board, which includes results of a lab test performed by Booth Environmental Services, LLC. According to the report, the samples, which were to have been taken from Meche's apartment, were found to have four types of highly elevated molds, Chaetomium, Trichoderma, Aspergillus/Pencillium, and Stachybotrys (black mold).

Those lab results are in direct conflict with inspection reports from the City of Sulphur.

According to the chairman of the Sulphur Housing Authority, Franklin Foote, city inspections are the only thing the board can go by when making decisions like this. Foote said city inspections show there are no major problems with the apartments in questions.

Meche also said she and her daughter had been diagnosed with illnesses because of the unhealthy condition of her old apartment.

Foote said the board will probably convene a special meeting this week so they can explain their decision to Meche and Benglis, since the pair was not allowed to speak last time.

Meche said despite what the Housing Authority decides, she plans on fighting the treatment she received.

Because she was evicted, Meche is no longer on Section 8. Meche plans on reapplying soon, even though she'll likely to be put at the end of the line. Benglis no longer has Section 8 status either.

"Everyone that lives there has young children and they're pretty much put in the same situation as me," said Meche. "They either have to deal with it and live in pretty much slum, because if they speak up about it, or complain about it, they get evicted.

I just hope something's done about it."

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