[an error occurred while processing this directive]

I-Team Special Report: Harmful Homes

Updated: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 |
I-Team Special Report: Harmful Homes story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A Kalamazoo woman says she was led astray by both the city and the state when she tried to make her home safe for her and her family.

The Newschannel 3 took an inside look at the woman's two year battle to remove lead from her house.

Like most people, Brandi Crawford-Johnson knew very little about the dangers of lead for children or how to remove lead from a home, until it became the all consuming part of her life she's been dealing with for years.

When she bought her 110-year-old house from the City of Kalamazoo she felt it was full of potential, but she says what the city never told her was that it was also full of lead.

"I got a letter from the City of Kalamazoo saying they forgot to give me the disclosure to tell you there was lead. So since they sent me that letter, since they didn't tell me, I said they should have to pay for having my lead removed," Brandi said.

Her 8-year-old son had an elevated lead blood level, and the city agreed to give her $115,000 to remove the lead and cover other costs.

That's when Brandi started dealing with the State of Michigan lead program, which she says introduced her to Midwest Builders.

She signed a contract directly with the company which is based in Nunica.

"The only thing I thought was strange was they weren't wearing protective gear," Brandi said. "I thought the workers would be wearing suits and masks and stuff like that."

Although they didn't tell her, the I-Team uncovered in these state records that state inspectors went to her house in June and issued nine citations to Midwest.

Some of the reasons, according to state paperwork: the company had workers on the site uncertified in handling lead; there was no plastic ground cover being used in the house; crews used ordinary brooms instead of HEPA vacuums; Brandi's heating vents weren't sealed before work started; and unwrapped debris was being tossed on the floors.

Midwest was orginally fined $13,100 but that was later reduced to $2,840.

"They just didn't do it right," said attorney Donnelly Hadden. "They didn't follow the rules correctly and obviously didn't clean up because it's still contaminated."

But Hadden says he's also worried that the state didn't tell Brandi any of this, and the house passed a third-party inspection by a company Midwest chose.

Brandi says she paid Midwest $64,000 and moved back in.

"So she moves back in, thinking it's clean, and the state knew it wasn't; should have known," Hadden said.

"I was really upset, because I didn't know the extent of what they did until six months after they were at my house," said Brandi.

Brandi had her own test done, by another state-recommended lead inspector, and sure enough, according to this inspection, there is still lead throughout the house.

We went to Midwest's office and have asked the company for an explanation for several weeks but haven't heard back.

But as the the I-Team was investigating the story we came across this: Midwest is still one of the top recommended lead removal companies listed on the Michigan Department of Community Health's website. They are even described as qualified to train other companies.

After initially agreeing to let the I-Team interview officials with the lead program, the Department of Community Health later backed out and told us no one could talk to us because of the chance of a lawsuit.

"I'm worried that other families like me think they have a lead clearance that's safe and they probably have lead in their house or yard possibly," Brandi said.

Brandi is living in her house, but so far no one in her family is testing at a high lead blood level.

Two weeks ago she did file a lawsuit against Midwest.

We also found Midwest was just selected by the state to do a new government subsidized project in Battle Creek where a small child is again involved.
comments powered by Disqus
advertisement

What do you want to see?

If you have a story idea for the I-Team, you can contact us using the form below or by calling 269-388-4612.
Please re-enter the code shown in the image below.

Business News

Last Update on May 29, 2015 07:35 GMT

ECONOMY(equals)THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Commerce Department will release its report on first-quarter gross domestic product today.

A brutal winter, plunging investment by energy companies and a widening trade gap likely combined to shrink the U.S. economy at the start of the year. But the slump is expected to prove short-lived.

JPMORGAN LAYOFFS

NEW YORK (AP) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. will cut about 5,000 jobs over the next year, as the bank closes branches and slims down its operations, The Wall Street Journal has reported, citing anonymous sources.

A representative for the New York bank declined to comment.

The job cuts will come from across the bank, but particularly from the consumer bank. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, at an investor conference this week, said that the average Chase branch would lose one employee -- mostly through attrition.

JPMorgan executives said in February that they expected to have 300 fewer branches over the next two years -- roughly 5 percent of its network -- because more customers were doing everyday banking transactions online or on their smartphones. The bank had 5,570 branches as of the first quarter.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan has reported that its jobless rate dropped to an 18-year low in April, but industrial production, inflation and household spending were muted as consumers kept purse strings tight.

The government said Friday that the unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in April, the lowest since April 1997, as the number of jobs to applicants rose to the highest level since 1992.

The core consumer price index, excluding volatile food prices, rose 0.4 percent, partly due to a fall in energy costs thanks to cheaper crude oil.

Aggressive monetary easing by the Bank of Japan, combined with pressures pushing the U.S. dollar higher have pulled the Japanese yen to its weakest level against the dollar since 2002. Share prices have meanwhile surged to 15-year highs. But overall growth has remained sluggish.

DENNIS HASTERT-INDICTMENT

CHICAGO (AP) -- Federal prosecutors have announced bank-related charges against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, accusing the 73-year-old Illinois Republican of structuring the withdrawal of $952,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He's also accused of lying to the FBI.

The U.S. attorney's office in Chicago says each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the indictment, from 2010 to 2014, Hastert withdrew a total of approximately $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts and provided it to a person identified only as Individual A.

The prosecutor's statement says "Hastert falsely stated that he was keeping the cash" when questioned by the FBI last December.

As speaker, Hastert pushed President George W. Bush's legislative agenda, helping pass a massive tax cut and expanding Medicare prescription drug benefits.

He retired from Congress in 2007 after eight years as speaker.

APPLE AUGMENTED

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Apple has bought a company that makes augmented-reality software, which adds information or images to real-world scenes when viewed through a special headset or even a smartphone camera.

It's the latest sign that major tech companies see big potential for products that let users view the world with extra features added by technology. Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft are all working on augmented- or virtual-reality products. Augmented reality can add hand-drawn sketches, navigational directions, historic video or computer-generated, three-dimensional images to a real-world scene. Virtual reality can make viewers feel as if they are immersed in an artificial world.

Apple on Thursday confirmed the purchase of Munich-based Metaio for an undisclosed sum but did not say what it plans to do with the technology.

GOOGLE PHOTOS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Google is willing to store and organize all of the world's digital photos and videos for free.

The online photo service announced Thursday is the latest example of Google's desire to wrap its tentacles around virtually every part of people's lives.

Google will provide unlimited storage of all photos up to 16 megapixels and high-definition video up to 1080p.

The service, called Google Photos, will be available as an app on Android and Apple devices, and on a website, http://photos.google.com . It's a variation of the photo-management tool on Google Plus, a social networking service that has struggled to compete against Facebook since its 2011 debut.

Apple has a photo service that offers up to five gigabytes of storage for free. Yahoo's Flickr service offers one terabyte of storage for free.

OIL TRAINS-EMERGENCY ORDER

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- U.S. transportation officials are extending an order for railroads to notify states about shipments of hazardous crude oil shipments.

Emergency responders had raised worries over a new rule that did away with the requirement.

Trains hauling crude from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana have been involved in multiple fiery derailments in recent years, including a 2013 derailment that killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Thursday's action revives a 2014 order for railroads to give emergency officials oil train routing and volume information to better prepare for accidents.

The Transportation Department had moved this month to replace the mandate with a rule that would require states to request the information.

Agency spokeswoman Artealia Gilliard says federal regulators "heard loud and clear" the concerns raised by emergency responders.

advertisement