Prince George’s County officials have confirmed that the area’s only shelter for abused women and their children fails to meet standards of acceptability, days after residents told News4 they were living without proper heating in a mold-infested home.
“There’s mice popping out of couches. There’s mold everywhere,” one resident said.
Another woman said she and her daughter have asthma, making conditions at the home scary. Asthma can be aggravated by mold, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
The mold seems to grow in the bathrooms, kitchens and other areas of the house, according to photos the residents shared. Mold can even be found on food in the kitchen, residents said.
The house is also extremely cold, multiple residents reported.
“I cannot even let my kids stay in the room because it’s so cold,” a mom of four kids said.
The women live in a shelter provided by the Family Crisis Center of Prince George's County, a non-profit organization funded by city and state dollars.
The city have the shelter more than $300,000 last year. The state of Maryland gave the shelter over $1 million last year.
A woman who worked for the Family Crisis Center for two years, but was fired one month ago, says the pictures show the true situation.
“The stuff that they’re saying is true. Those pictures are accurate,” the former employee, Keiyauna Stanley-Gregg, said.
All of these women are survivors of domestic violence who went to the Family Crisis Center to escape abuse.
“They’re victims being revictimized. In a domestic violence shelter,” Stanley-Gregg said.
Sophie Ford, director of the Family Crisis Center, denied the complaints. When asked about the cleanliness and warmth of the home, she indicated it was acceptable.
Elana Belon-Butler, the director of Prince George’s County Family Services, inspected the shelter and found conditions below par.
“Things were not fine,” Belon-Butler said. "We need to make sure that this facility is safe and clean. Not just for the women that are there, but their children."
Before the county inspectors came, residents say the Ford threw out molded food and the trash. Some residents also said someone was shredding paper, and they believe Ford was trying to dispose of evidence they had documented.
Some residents videotaped the alleged cover-up, and former employee Stanley-Gregg identified Ford in the videos.
Belon-Butler promised that the county would work closely with the shelter to fix the problems as soon as possible. The shelter has been open since 1993.
Family Services offered to house the women in hotels if they don't want to stay in the house.
If you are interested in helping the shelter, you can drop off clothing, toiletries and more at this address:
Domestic Violence Shelter Help
Prince George’s County Department of Family Services
6420 Allentown Road
Temple Hills, MD 20748