FORT MYERS, Fla. — Thursday afternoon, FOX 4 was kicked out of the Lago Del Sol apartment complex and barred from asking them questions about the state of their apartments.
But to understand how we got to that point, we need to talk you back to the week of April 26, 2021.
We were tipped off by several people in the complex about a massive pothole at the front entrance.
"When I first moved in here it started as a mid-sized hole, and it just got bigger and bigger over time,” said Charlisa Hood.
Hood told FOX 4 that the hole was impacting her kids' learning.
"My children are special needs. They bus supposed to be able to pick them up right here, their bus can't come here,” she said.
In fact, the hole is so bad that more than a year ago, in January of 2020, even the Lee County School District reached out to the complex about it, because they were concerned.
But nothing was done.
"They told us it was going to get fixed and that's the best it got fixed right there,” said Hood.
While investigating the poorly paved road, we learned that there were other things in the complex that needed to be fixed.
FOX 4’s Rochelle Alleyne then toured Hood’s apartment, which she shares with six of her seven kids.
Out of respect to her kids inside, we didn't shoot video, but we have pictures that show you exactly what we saw: rusted pipes; a showerhead literally falling out of the wall; a dishwasher full of water that won't drain; and cupboards hanging on by a thread.
"They cleaned the apartments upstairs and roaches were coming through the ceiling, through the vents,” said Hood.
Hood gets rental assistance from the Housing Authority for the City of Fort Myers (HACFM).
She says over the last few years, most of her complaints about the state of her place have fallen on deaf ears.
Fox 4 did some digging and found that her apartment recently failed two inspections by the housing authority.
The first one happened on February 22, 2021. The inspector found evidence of a rodent infestation, a need to spray for roaches, a window that can't stay open, severely water-damaged cabinets, water-damaged carpet that needs to be replaced, water damage in the kitchen ceiling and in a living room wall.
Documents show that all of these issues were the fault of the owner, not the tenant.
And the complex was given 30 days to fix things.
"They want their money. And we want to live happy, peaceful, healthy. We ain't got that,” said Hood.
A month later and the reports look identical, except for the date, March 22, 2021.
The inspection showed that nothing was fixed and the unit failed again.
"This is depressing my children. I took my daughter to the doctor and they asked her how she was feeling and she said she was depressed. My son say he's depressed. This is too much,” said Hood.
Typically the housing authority would pay the bulk of Hood's $1425-a-month rent and she would pay $175 a month.
But, because of the back-to-back failures, in a letter dated April 29, 2021 the housing authority told complex managers that they would stop paying their portion of the rent and added that Ms. Hood would only be responsible for her portion of the rent. That means the complex would lose out on $1200 a month.
The housing authority also threatened to end its agreement with the complex if things weren't fixed by May 31st.
Since then, Hood says complex management has been leaving notices on her door. They all threaten to evict her for not paying the full rent amount, even though legally she's not required to.
That brings us back to that confrontation on Thursday.
After calling and emailing Lago Del Sol complex management and their California-based owner, Pacifica Edisto Lake LLC, FOX 4’s Rochelle showed up to the complex. As she approached the door of the leasing office, someone in a green t-shirt ran up and locked it before she could open it.
After knocking and temporarily being ignored by at least five people inside, a woman opened the door.
She refused to identify herself or answer our questions.
Rochelle and FOX 4 Photojournalist Karan Deardorff were then asked to leave the premises.
It's a situation that without intervention, will likely leave Hood right where we found her a month ago.
"I'm looking for somewhere safe to take my kids,” she said.
Hood says the housing authority has given her a voucher to move, because they don't anticipate that the complex will have that unit properly fixed by May 31, 2021.
But that also means she has to be out of her apartment by next Monday and so far she says she hasn't found a place that takes housing vouchers and can accommodate her and her kids.