‘I have mold growing in my ears’: Hawthorne family pleads for Alachua County Commission to approve permit for new mobile home

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 11:27 PM EDT
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HAWTHORNE, Fla. (WCJB) - Lollie Chapman and her mom have been living with mold and leaks in what they call an unstable home since Hurricane Irma hit in 2017 and Alachua County zoning regulations are the only thing stopping them from moving to a new home.

“I honestly don’t know what we’ll do,” Lollie Chapman said.

Living in turmoil since Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, 18-year-old Lollie Chapman and her mother Leah Chapman are suffering from leaks in their roof, a weak stability and mold.

“If I step any further, it’s like caving in.”

She’s worried for her and her mom’s health.

“Right now I have mold growing in my ears, I have a fungal infection,” Chapman said. “I’ll be on FaceTime with my friends when it rains and they’re like Lollie what is that noise, I’m like it’s raining. Are you outside? No. And after seeing my mom get hurt and get sick over and over again.”

Leah uses buckets to catch water whenever it rains, she then puts the bucket on a cart and dumps it outside.”

As conditions worsened, “Rebuild Florida” stepped in.

“We have a house waiting for us, completely free of charge,” Lollie Chapman said.

As soon as the permit is signed they will be given temporary housing until it’s ready, according to Leah during last Tuesday’s Alachua county commission meeting.

Commissioners can’t sign off on it as there are two homes on their parcel and their home was under a hardship variance since 1993 and hasn’t been valid for years but they didn’t know that.

“Unfortunately because the parcel isn’t homesteaded,” Alachua County Commissioner Anna Prizzia explained. “It can’t be approved for an accessory dwelling unit which is how we deal with these sort of accessory dwellings now...I understand the challenges she’s having.”

Alachua County staff's email to commissioners regarding the issue
Alachua County staff's email to commissioners regarding the issue(WCJB)

The commission’s challenge is they say it’s illegal to break their development code.

Chapman’s uncle lives across the street and that could be an option.

“The property next door, they could build this mobile home on that property as long as it’s 1000 square feet or less,” Prizzia said.

There are trees that would need to be taken down and they already have well and septic set up on their property.

After losing her service dog to black mold, Lollie’s afraid the same could happen to her mom if they don’t get out soon.

“So seeing her hurt herself just to try and keep what’s left of our home standing is really what made me realize how bad it is,” Chapman added.

Their message to the commission is not one of anger.

“It’s just one of complete and total hopelessness and desperation,” Chapman said.

County staffers are looking into options for the family and will present to the board on the issue at their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

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