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Businesses pivot to meet the demand for COVID-19 disinfection – Fall River Herald News

MILWAUKEE As more people are allowed back into offices, restaurants and hotels under the City of Milwaukee's re-opening plans, the need for disinfection is greater than ever.

Pest 2 Rest Pest Control, a family-owned extermination company, is one of the many businesses that now specialize in COVID-19 disinfection.

"There is a 0.1% difference between sanitizing and disinfecting," said Jeffery Hardy Sr., the co-owner of Pest 2 Rest. "So, sanitizing, you're cleaning; disinfecting, you're killing the virus. And that's what we're encouraging people to do."

He also encourages clients to have a plan of action after his job is done.

Hardy's business, as its name would suggest, started out killing bed bugs, roaches, rodents and other critters. Since March, Hardy chose to pivot like many other entrepreneurs. Now, he and his wife, Brenda, and sometimes their three kids as well, spray interiors to rid keyboards, desks and doorknobs of the invisible menace that has claimed the lives of almost 150,000 Americans.

The Hardys began their transition in February when Hardy was urged by his supplier to make a significant order of something called Nisus DSV.

"I think he knew something was gonna happen," Hardy said.

"And then March came and everything kind of hit the fan, and come to find out that this product is a disinfectant that's used for the COVID," Hardy said. "It's very kind of hard to find now."

Nisus DSV can be found under the EPA registration number 10324-80 on List N, which contains EPA-approved disinfectant products "for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19."

Thanks to the switch to office cleaning, Pest 2 Rest is probably doing better financially than it was before, Hardy said.

Pest 2 Rest began in 2009 as a one-man operation. Once the workload became too much for Hardy alone, his wife joined, too. Eventually, all three of their children came to help out in the family business.

These days, instead of ridding mattresses of unwanted critters, they're more likely to be spraying down bar stools. But what they are most passionate about is making churches safe again.

Their desire to help the faithful started a few weeks ago while taking a Saturday drive. Like so many others, they were looking for a way to fend off boredom.

"Every bar that we went past had a line out the door, 20 or 30 people waiting to get in," Hardy said. The next day, "We went past six or seven churches, and not one person."

The Hardys wondered how this could be and decided to take it upon themselves to do something about it.

The demand for disinfection is so high that many other businesses have reoriented themselves to meet it.

Another company, Onedesk, based in Minneapolis is approaching the new demand for office cleaning from a high-tech perspective.

The company's website and app, which have the look and feel of a thriving Silicon Valley startup, enable clients to message, schedule and pay for services through an online platform. Onedesk contracts with cleaners throughout the country using a thorough vetting process. Once approved, contractors are required to maintain industry knowledge with regular assessments.

Like Pest 2 Rest, the company looks a lot different than it did a few months ago.

"We would just come in, vacuum, we would dust, you know. We would make offices look good, nice," said Roman Peysakhovich, CEO of Onedesk. "Now the main thing is all about disinfection. It's the only thing that people care about. It's not so much about just having a tidy office."

Contractors now use virucide and electrostatic sprayers, devices that use positively charged particles that cling to surfaces.

Peysakhovich said his company's services, once seen as a luxury, are now considered fundamental.

Onedesk, formerly Building Masters, took the opportunity to reconfigure itself when statewide orders like "Safer at Home" shut down businesses and reduced the need for cleaning services across the country.

"So it took about a good two months for us to learn all this stuff and review most of the basics," Peysakhovich said.

A third alternative for eliminating the virus barely requires human help.

Altapure is a disinfection technology and manufacturing company based in Mequon, Wisconsin. It has developed the AP-4, a touchless device that can disinfect a 3,000-cubic-foot room in 45 minutes. It can be controlled wirelessly, which reduces the risk of human contamination.

Carl L. Ricciardi co-founded Altapure with his son, Jonathan, in 2003. Ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit, AP-4 sales have gone up and its customer base has expanded dramatically.

"Prior to COVID, we were primarily a medical facility oriented company. Post-COVID nursing homes, long-term care facilities, restaurants any place where people gather has become a customer," Ricciardi said.

Altapure has clients in the Midwest, on the East Coast and even in Australia and New Zealand.

"COVID was a wake-up call for the world and a wake-up call to American medicine and a wake-up call to hospitals and, certainly, a wake-up call to the public."

Brenda Hardy of Pest 2 Rest can attest to this last point.

She said her friends and family speak of cleaning and disinfecting to make places such as churches safe enough to visit again.

Hardy said that "cleanliness is next to godliness," but during this pandemic, 'clean' is simply not good enough.

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Woman whose neglect left 7 kids covered in dog bites was too poor to look after themso how did she buy new – The Sun

A WOMAN has been charged with child abuse after she claimed she was too poor to look after her kids - but still bought a Harley-Davidson motorbike.

Alexis Dahl is charged with multiple counts of child abuse and neglect against seven children.

A criminal complaint alleges a pattern of abuse and neglect by the 26-year-old over the past four years in Waupaca, Wisconsin.

It is claimed seven children under the age of seven, several under the age of four, were victims, reports WSAU.

Doctors are said to have found injuries consistent with burns from scalding water.

One child is also alleged to have suffered a dog bite to the face.

The home also has an infestation of bed bugs, but Dahl allegedly told authorities she didn't not have the money to fix it.

However, it emerged Dahl and a man living at the residence had spent their tax refund on Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Medics claim they also found bruises and scratches on the children, along with multiple bed bug bites.

And another of the children is alleged to have ingested insecticide.

Wisconsin authorities say ever year up to 5,000 children are abused or neglected in the state.

Child neglect can be considered a Class G felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Other charges relating to child abuse can carry prison terms of up to 40 years and fines on $100,000.


It comes after a mum was charged with neglect after the mummified corpse of her missing five-year-old son was found in the trunk of her car.

Sagal Hussein, 25, was hit with a slew of child abuse charges after cops searched her vehicle to make the horrific find.

Little Josias Marquez, who is described as having severe disabilities, had been missing since November 25 according to cops.

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Woman whose neglect left 7 kids covered in dog bites was too poor to look after themso how did she buy new - The Sun

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Certainly is a growing problem: Waukesha Fire Department has new tool to fight bed bugs – WITI FOX 6 Milwaukee

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WAUKESHA -- Bed bugs can be hard to spot and even tougher to get rid of. The City of Waukesha Fire Department has a new tool to fight the problem -- and make sure every ambulance is clean.

Kira Benkert is getting an ambulance ready for the day's first patient -- including making sure there aren't any unwanted passengers: bed bugs.

"It certainly is a growing problem, not only in Waukesha but in the whole metro area," said Joseph Hoffman, City of Waukesha Fire Department Assistant Chief.

During the end of 2019, the department had multiple incidents where bed bugs were found on an ambulance. A deep clean would take the ambulance out of service for several days and would require the use of chemicals.

"We're trying to get away from chemicals, so we're trying to keep our citizens safe, us safe," said Kira Benkert, EMS shift coordinator.

So the department looked into a new option "The Cube Bed Bug Killer." It was donated by Safeway Pest Management. It heats up the ambulance -- killing any bed bugs or eggs inside.

"Within 2-3 hours our ambulance can be back in service," said Benkert.

With no chemicals needed, it makes for an all-around easier cleanup. Just another way the department hopes to make each ambulance ride safe.

"We do a lot of things to ensure that our ambulances are clean, are sterile, are good places to be. Bed bugs is just another one of those things that we got to make sure that they're not getting exposed to," said Hoffman.

The heater is shared between the city's five fire stations.

Saving time on cleaning helps the department spend more time on other maintenance.


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Certainly is a growing problem: Waukesha Fire Department has new tool to fight bed bugs - WITI FOX 6 Milwaukee

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Students at a Lake Country school had bed bugs, here’s how the community solving the problem – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Families at Magee Elementary School have rallied to raise money to help three families get their homes treated for bedbugs(Photo: Submitted)

Magee Elementarycommunity members have rallied to help three families raise funds needed to heat treat their homes for bedbugs.

A GoFundMe page for the fundraiser shows that $4,115 has been raised. According to the page, the treatments are costly, typically ranging from $1,500 to more than $4,500, based onthe size of a home.

"It is time for us torally together to support families in our schoolwho have had the misfortune to contract bedbugs into their homes. Eliminating these little pests is difficult to do without professional assistance which is very costly," the GoFundMe page said.

Magee Elementary Principal Sue Sterner said the school learned in October that one of the school's families had an infestation of bed bugs, after a bug was found on a student's coat at the school. Sterner said bedbugs look similar to ticks.

The school also learned that two other families had bedbugs after students made comments to adults in the building.

All told, six students are affected.

The familiesworked on getting their homes treated while procedures were put in place at the school to prevent the spread of bedbugs.Sterner said all the affected families have been communicating with the school about themeasures they have taken to get rid of the bedbugs.

Sterner said she didn't know whether the familieswere connected with each other.

"While I can notify parents that their child has bedbugs or we have these bites or the actual bug, we can't exclude children from school for that. We're a public school. It's not a medical or health crisis. So, similar to head lice, it's a nuisance," Sterner said.

Sterner said that students from the affected homes go straight to the health room when they arrive at school and change into clothing and shoes the school keeps there for them.

The school heat-treatstheir outdoor winter gear so they can go to recess, and laundersthe clothes the students wore to school.

At the end of the school day, the students change back into the clothes and shoes they wore to school.

"We do their laundry here at school just so that we can limit the amount of things that go back and forth between the homes while it's being treated," Sterner said.

"Bedbugs are also different from head lice in that they can feed or bite and then go hide for two, three, eight, 10 months and not come out again until they need to feed. ...That makes bedbugs all the harder to get rid of as well," she added.

The Magee Elementary PTO has bought bins for all students to put their belongings in while they are in school, to keep items separate and prevent the spread of bedbugs.

Other measures included bringing in a pest control company, Batzer, which the school has a regular contract with, and bug-sniffing dogs. To bring the dogs in isaround $250 per visit.Cleaning and vacuuming also takes place in the school every day. Sterner said the school's custodian went above and beyond cleaning the health room at least twice a day and vacuuming common spaces several times a day. The laundry gets done by several people and wasn't an added cost, according to Sterner.

The Magee Elementary principalalso said she sent email updates to parents about what the school was doing to prevent the bugs from spreading.

Sterner said that the school is happy that the fundraiser will help thestudentsreturn to a normal routine.

"They come to school and they're the only ones changing here, and that's hard. I don't want to say it's psychologically (difficult), but it really is,it really isa trauma for kids to deal with what's in their home and then to come here and change their clothes. We really try to make it as private and as painless of an experience as we possibly can," said Sterner.

Sterner said other students are treating the six affected students as they normally would, for the most part.

She said the school iseducating students about bedbugs, that they can be picked up in many different places and not as a result of anything anyone knowingly did.

"We really need to be understanding of families dealing with this in their homes," Sterner said.

Parentsdecided to come together to help after realizing that it wasn't going to be a quick fix, according to Sterner.

Magee Elementary parent Stacy Grafenauerreached out to Sterner to see whether the affected families would be interested in financial assistance, and then organized thefundraiser for the families, who have asked to remain anonymous.

Grafenauer set a goal of $4,000, and hired Milwaukee Bed Bug Pros to administer the treatments toall the affected homes. The money was raised in just four days, from Feb. 7 to 11. Any additional funds that come in willbe used for follow-up treatments. The treatment was scheduled to start the week of Feb. 17.

"I'm very grateful to them (Milwaukee Bed Bug Pros)and to the families in our community that have really stepped up to make this happen," Grafenauersaid.

Sterner said this is an example of the family atmosphere at Magee.

"I think our community has really come together learning more about 'this could happen to anyof us.'People save money for Christmas gifts and they save money for vacations. Nobody saves money for bedbugs, so when and if it happens to you, it is going to be a cost you didn't plan for. I thinkas people realize that, we would hope that we would be able to help each other, should these unforeseen situations arise," said Sterner.

"I've been the principal at Magee this is my fifth year when I started, I heard from people (that) it's a great family atmosphere, it's a small school, they're really tight-knit, lots of traditions and that's truly what it is.

"It could as easily have swung the other way with negative press to ostracizing families, and instead, we've embraced each other, and I think coming out stronger on the other side. This is a great example for our kids as well. Anybody can get them (bedbugs). Doesn't mean they're bad people or anything like that. Look at how we can come together and help people."

ContactAlec Johnson at(262) 875-9469 Follow him on Twitter at @AlecJohnson12.

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Inside Public Housing Where Cockroaches Drop From the Wall and Kids are Getting Sick – ProPublica

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PEORIA, Ill. Midday on July 4, Bria Embrey held her 7-month-old son in her arms as she talked to a police officer patrolling the public housing complex where she lives. In the middle of the conversation, the babys breathing became labored. With each desperate gasp, Embrey could see the outline of his rib cage.

The police officer called for help, and the baby was taken by ambulance to nearby OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. He spent five days in the intensive care unit as doctors worked their way toward a diagnosis of asthma.

A doctor wanted to know if Embrey had smoked in front of her children. No, she assured him. Then Embrey mentioned the mold and roaches inside her public housing apartment at Taft Homes, which is owned and managed by the Peoria Housing Authority.

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When the hospital discharged the child, the doctor instructed Embrey to call Peorias code enforcement office and report the conditions in her apartment.

Though Embrey did as instructed, these problems have been documented for years and little has changed.

Taft Homes has failed three of its five most recent inspections by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Peoria Housing Authority has delayed major repairs at the property even as it has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over more than a decade to consultants and developers for plans that have yet to materialize, records and interviews reveal.

Peorias case is extreme. But in many ways, the Taft Homes exemplifies the plight of publicly subsidized housing throughout Illinois. From Chicago to Peoria to Carbondale, some apartments for the states lowest-income families are deteriorating at a time when the need for them is rising.

For its part, HUD rarely intervenes in an aggressive way, despite its congressional mandate to oversee local landlords that provide subsidized housing and to enforce fair housing laws. They dont care because their kids dont have to live here, Embrey said, echoing the concerns of many residents interviewed for this story. They dont see the urgency.

Local housing authorities face steep challenges. There is limited funding to renovate the buildings or to tear them down and start over.

Congress has repeatedly cut funding to housing authorities, and hasnt dedicated money for a rebuilding program for decades. Today, most housing authorities looking to extensively renovate or replace their aging buildings must seek out federal low-income housing tax credits and other smaller pools of government funds and private bank loans, typically in partnership with a nonprofit or for-profit developer. These elaborate deals are fraught with challenges, and they routinely fall apart or fall far short of promises, according to an analysis by The Southern Illinoisan.

Last year, The Southern Illinoisan and ProPublica documented the fallout of the public housing crisis in Cairo, at the states southernmost tip, which resulted in the relocation of hundreds of residents from the small town. The news organizations also reported on the failures of HUD to improve conditions in East St. Louis after a federal takeover that spanned more than three decades.

Our new analysis shows that problems are widespread across the state of Illinois.

Illinois HUD inspection failure rate is among the worst in the nation for the two types of properties that the department funds and inspects: apartments owned by public housing authorities and complexes run by for-profit or nonprofit owners under contract with HUD to house low-income people. (Look up properties in your area using ProPublicas newly updated HUD Inspect tool.)

The consequences go well beyond a chronic lack of affordable housing. Dr. Douglas Carlson, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at SIU Medicine in Springfield, said that one of the most common contributing factors to respiratory problems in children is poor housing conditions.

We certainly see increased rates of asthma in kids living in houses that are not fully maintained or deteriorating in downstate Illinois, he said. And it looks like the most common cause is mold.

The crisis touches every region of the state. But there are few places where its as apparent as in Peoria, a company town in north-central Illinois long known as Caterpillar Inc.s home base.

Taft Homes, where Embrey lives, is just a few blocks from Caterpillars sprawling downtown campus and a welcome center that stands as a shrine to the earthmoving company. Its also about a half-mile from where Caterpillar bought numerous buildings in 2012 and 2013 to expand its global headquarters.

As city officials aggressively courted Caterpillar, Taft Homes residents were promised that their decaying homes would finally be torn down and replaced. But over the next decade, they would be let down repeatedly.

In May 2009, the Peoria Journal Star reported that housing officials planned to hold off on spending a portion of $4.3 million in federal funds earmarked for repairs at Taft and instead direct the money into a redevelopment plan. We dont want to spend funds on siding and doors on a development that may not be there in a few years, the then-director told the paper.

In 2011, a consultant issued a report on the housing authoritys behalf, suggesting that rebuilding Taft Homes as a mixed-income community at its current location near downtown represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine the apartment complex and neighborhood.

Instead, two years later, housing authority officials began exploring the possibility of leveling Taft Homes and leasing or selling the land to support the development of new, smaller apartment complexes throughout the city, with an aim, they said, of better integrating affordable housing into established neighborhoods. Meanwhile, others were eyeing the riverfront property where Taft sits for potential development.

As the housing authority held community meetings in 2014 to gather feedback on the relocation plan, Peoria homeowners by the hundreds, most of them white, packed meetings and voiced strong opposition. Over the months and years that followed, several different plans were created and ultimately abandoned.

Now, more than a decade later, families continue to live in unsafe conditions at Taft Homes. In 2018, the housing authority quietly settled with an Ohio-based developer for more than $500,000 over its dashed redevelopment plan, audit records show. With HUDs blessing, the company was paid from federal funds awarded to the housing authority to help the city build replacement housing.

As late as September of this year, a scaled back plan to transfer subsidies from a few dozen units at Taft Homes to two small apartment complexes about a mile away in the East Bluff hit another snag. In a letter, HUD accused the housing authority of failing to offer the new units to residents who still live at Taft Homes.

While the Taft Homes remain standing, Caterpillars top executives have left town. In 2017, the company stunned the community when executives announced that, after some 90 years, it would move its headquarters from Peoria to a suburb north of Chicago.

This July, the housing authority announced that a new redevelopment plan is in the works for Taft. More recently, the housing authority informed tenants that it is aiming to begin the rebuilding process by this time next year. The apartments will be rebuilt in the same neighborhood, said Jackie L. Newman, who has been the housing authoritys chief executive since April 2018. There were different circumstances going on within the community that are not going on now, she said, citing Caterpillars decision to move its headquarters.

What we do know is we need to redevelop Taft, said Newman, who holds her position on contract in addition to her full-time job running the Springfield Housing Authority, an hour to the south.

Taft Homes isnt the only public housing property in Peoria in need of attention. About a mile across town, mold is growing in the upstairs bathroom, hallway and bedrooms of Shante Hardens apartment unit at Harrison Homes South. Paint is bubbling up and peeling from her 5-year-old daughters bedroom wall near her pink princess play table; the electrical outlets dont work in her sons room. And when their bathtub leaks or their toilet overflows, it rains into the kitchen below.

Harden hasnt taken her complaints to the city. Before moving into her unit three years ago, she and her two children were living in a homeless shelter. I think thats why I havent been on them about the conditions, she said. I cant go back to that.

Like Taft Homes, this property also failed its most recent HUD inspection this February, scoring 45 out of 100 points. HUD has given the housing authority itself lousy reviews for a decade, labeling it as substandard or troubled every year since 2011, records show. Five of the housing authoritys nine properties failed their most recent HUD inspections, according to the most current available data from HUD.

Still, the federal oversight agency hasnt taken any strong action against the authority, such as appointing a monitor to oversee improvements or putting it in receivership.

HUD has and will continue to offer assistance to the PHA [Peoria Housing Authority], however, as weve explained on numerous occasions, the board and mayor provide immediate direction, HUD spokesman Jereon Brown said in response to questions. (Brown left the agency earlier this month).

Illinois small and midsized cities face similar difficulties and for many of the same reasons as in Peoria. Housing officials often have trouble securing financing to replace old units. Homeowners in stable neighborhoods sometimes fight plans to construct affordable housing near them, despite studies indicating that children from low-income families tend to earn higher incomes as adults when they grow up in more economically stable neighborhoods. At the local level, some of Illinois most explosive political fights have revolved around affordable housing.

Around 2012, housing officials in Rockford, a town of about 147,000 people near the Wisconsin border, began working on a plan to address poor conditions at Fairgrounds Valley, a 210-unit public apartment complex that is decades old.

The housing authoritys plan called for moving some residents from the housing complex on the west side of Rock River into a newly constructed apartment community on the east side. But before these residents could cross the river long a de facto dividing line between economically struggling, predominantly minority neighborhoods and more stable, majority white neighborhoods they had to overcome an epic political battle.

City council members refused to sign off on necessary zoning changes, prompting a lawsuit from the development company. Around the same time, HUD filed a fair housing complaint against the city, and the council reversed its previous opposition. The developer dropped its lawsuit. Then, east side homeowners who wanted to stop the project sued the city. A judge dismissed the homeowners lawsuit, and, with the issue settled, the development could finally move forward.

It was nearly five years after planning began that Fairgrounds residents began relocating. The roughly 150 households that remain at the apartment complex continue to wait for the promise of improved conditions. The plan to address future phases of the redevelopment has been delayed by challenges accessing financing and meeting specific HUD requirements, Rockford housing officials said.

Housing officials say its not only a matter of needing more funding to rehabilitate old buildings. They also need the support of local elected leaders to better integrate affordable housing options into middle-class neighborhoods. Yet political capital can prove as elusive as financing.

Tens of thousands of people across the state are lingering on waiting lists for federal assistance to reduce their rent burden, according to a survey of the states roughly 100 housing authorities by The Southern Illinoisan. Sometimes, they wait a decade or more.

But those waits vary greatly by location, even within a single county. For instance, in Illinois Metro East area bordering St. Louis, the St. Clair County Housing Authority reported wait times of a month or less for public housing apartment complexes in the high poverty, majority-minority small cities that border East St. Louis. Comparatively, the wait time for public housing about 10 miles away in OFallon, Millstadt and Dupo majority white communities with much stronger economies, better infrastructure and more neighborhood amenities can stretch for more than three years.

Several Illinois housing authority directors who oversee public housing in rural areas, including Pope and Alexander counties at the states southern border, reported no wait times and trouble filling vacancies in some cases. Meanwhile, there is little or no public housing in many of the wealthy suburban communities that ring Chicago, while tens of thousands of people linger on waitlists for various subsidized housing programs in Cook and the collar counties.

The affordable housing crisis is particularly acute for black families. African American children and their families are far more likely to live in housing that repeatedly fails HUD inspections. Black people are also eight times more likely to experience homelessness in Illinois than white people, according to an analysis of HUD homelessness data by Housing Action Illinois, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

Jacqueline Abbott, who lives in a five-story apartment complex in west Carbondale, said that she would move into a private-market rental if there was a decent one she could afford on her salary working at Dollar General. In public housing, her rent is capped at 30% of her income. But poor conditions in her building have caused her financial hardship. This summer, she said, she was changing the sheets on her bed and noticed the mattress was covered in a black substance that she believes was mold. Since then, shes been sleeping on her couch while trying to save for a new mattress.

Its not right, its not fair, she said. In the 16 years shes lived in her apartment, Abbott said building conditions have slowly deteriorated. She has asthma and said that poor air circulation in the building aggravates her breathing condition. Two other women at the complex also said theyve noticed problems there, including worn carpet, mold, bedbugs and broken appliances.

Four hours north in Quincy, Melanie Howe said conditions got so bad at the 200-unit Indian Hills public housing complex where she lived for a decade that she moved her family out last year.

Her two children repeatedly missed school because they were sick so often, she said. This time last year, she spent days watching an air bubble in the paint of her daughters bedroom wall grow larger until she decided one day to pop it with a broom handle. Roaches fell out of the wall, she said. There were so many of them. It was horrid.

In addition to her full-time job at a call center, she took on two additional part-time jobs to afford market-rate rent. My kids were sick constantly when they lived there, she said. Since we have moved here, they havent been getting sick as often.

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Inside Public Housing Where Cockroaches Drop From the Wall and Kids are Getting Sick - ProPublica

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