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Paris, Texas Disabled man fears retaliation after mold complaint

Paris resident Bobby Yates says he fears retaliation from the Paris Housing Authority after complaining about mold in his apartment.

A double-amputee living in public housing has expressed concerns for his safety after complaining to a Housing Authority official about the conditions of his apartment.

Paris, Texas – A Paris Texas disabled man living in public housing has expressed concerns for his safety following complaints to the local housing authority about mold in his apartment. Bobby Yates, a double-amputee living in George Wright Homes, now asserts that the Paris Housing Authority may be retaliating against him due to his retaining assistance from Lone Star Legal Aid about his living conditions. previously reported on the widespread mold in Yates’ apartment, which he suggests contributed to his being hospitalized for pneumonia after moving in. Lone Star Legal Aid subsequently hired investigators, who determined the excessive mold was a health hazard, and sent a request to Housing Authority Director Denny Head to take action to resolve the issue. Yates’ fear of drug activity in the complex as well as his not having a bath tub in his apartment and having to use the sink to attempt to clean himself were also concerns raised in the letter sent to housing officials. The housing authority has given notification that he will be moved to another apartment; however, Yates’ concerns have extended beyond those about his health.

After the requests, Head made accusations in his response to Lone Star Legal Aid that Yates was involved in drug activity. Head stated in a letter dated March 2, 2010 that “…Mr. Yates was high on marijuana at 7:15 a.m. on June 26, 2009…” and also stated in a previous letter, “…on two different occasions there have been reports from different employees of the Housing Authority that Mr. Yates was observed smoking marijuana…If this continues and can be verified, action will be taken.”

Yates says that he does not do drugs, and feels the statements were made to intimidate him because of his complaints. He asserts that Head has taken the retaliation one step further and attempted to cause friction between he and a neighbor who recently confronted Yates, after reportedly being told by the housing authority director that he had accused them of selling drugs. Yates, who uses a wheelchair full-time stated of the exchange, “I’m really worried about Denny Head going around telling people that I said they sell drugs because there may be someone who will try to hurt me.”

Lone Star Legal Aid attorney Sharon Reynerson says they are keeping Yates’ case open until major issues are resolved. Reynerson states of the mold issue, due to purported problems in other apartments within the public housing complex, “We’re happy that he’s being moved from the apartment he was in, and that a bathroom is being installed, but we’re concerned that if it has the same single pane windows he may experience the same mold problem.” She notes that following an attempt by the housing authority to fix the mold issue in Yates’ current apartment after her initial correspondence, mold subsequently reappeared within a relatively short time frame.

News Reporter: Tiffany Cherry

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