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  1. #1

    Pretty sure my back is to the wall here...

    With the holidays behind us at last, I'm pretty sure the management at the apartment complex where I've lived (in the same unit even) for 8 years is about to start pressing me for an answer to a very important question: who will be moving, when will it happen, and what's the destination?

    I cannot stay. I am allergic to the downstairs neighbor, who cannot be compelled to respect the lethal threat she has become. All she would have to do is use unscented dryer sheets, and she has flat refused to consider it despite repeated requests from 2 different managers over the years. I'd already been here at least 3 years before she moved in, and as of the week before Christmas there are no complaints in my 8-year tenant file! She also flat refuses to consider (and again cannot be compelled) swapping units with the other downstairs tenant in this 4-plex building. Her dryer vent is directly below the only entrance/exit to my unit, and my MD is entirely convinced that my now-potentially-fatal allergic response to artificial scent agents has been drastically worsened just in the year he's known me and he is 100% sure she is the cause because I get doused in a toxic plume from her dryer vent at least once a week. And I cannot be given any more allergy meds, as I already take Claritin-D AND Flonase just to be able to leave my home. They are no longer enough.

    I cannot speak to my partner of 12 years about moving. He has severe anger management issues that I've only had to see about 3 times in those 12 years, but being forced out of our home to save my life has become a serious rage trigger. He does NOT want to move and he does NOT want to live here alone and I don't know who is going to have to tell him he can have one of those things and no other options exist. I can tell him that his feeling of being punished for something he did not do is completely valid, and that's about it.

    I cannot speak to my other partner, less than 3 weeks from our 7th anniversary (it's all open, both of them know the situation and are okay with it) because he just says "everything will be okay." He cannot offer a single fact to back that up and gets very surly when I point out that platitudes are NOT all that reassuring. I cannot move in with him because SSI requires by federal law that I pay half the rent and utilities anywhere I live with another person, and his health requirements put his power/heat bill way out of my range. He only gets about $100 more a month on a different disability program than I get on SSI.

    I cannot speak to my mother about this. My father just left her for the second time in their lives to go back to a woman who nearly killed him and who is still living in HIS house with her daughter, despite having remarried after my father moved out (to her daughter's dad, so she could collect his Social Security after he died in 11-14) AND despite a court decree that a major term of her divorce from my father was that the house was to be SOLD back in October. She says she's waiting for her wheelchair-bound, amputee daughter (threw herself off an overpass and lived) to be cleared to go live in Mexico. My mother firmly believes that my anxiety-associated panic attacks, and the anxiety that fuels them, are due entirely to my "incurably negative attitude". Apparently she managed to miss the entirety of the 15 years I spent burning as much negativity out of my heart and mind as I could, and she is the ONLY person I know who doesn't see the changes. Essentially, since I will NEVER accept my former stepmother (the one with the amputee daughter) as family again. I waited, and kept my mouth shut for the sake of peace in the family, since 1977 to be shut of that horrible woman and I will not have her in my life again.

    I've looked at the housing options in my area. There are almost no studio or 1-bedroom apartments, houses, cabins, trailers, etc. Those that are open are either "community coin-op laundry", which is a lethal threat now because of the stink-pretty additives almost everyone uses, or they have NO w/d access, or the rent alone (not counting utilities, and nothing I found online included utilities) is more than SSI gives me a month to live on. The few I could potentially afford that would not expose me to allergens constantly would leave me about $75 a month after rent and electricity/heat, and that is not enough in this area for a phone OR for internet access. I have been unable to drive since 2007 due to having had 8 full-on, can't move can't think can't breathe panic attacks while behind the wheel of a moving car, 3 of them back when I lived in Seattle 11 years ago. I will lose 2 partners, 2 pets, all access to medical and psychiatric care, and all contact with family and friends.

    Is it just me or do I have a pretty good reason to panic right now?

  2. #2
    Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snakeadelic View Post
    I cannot stay. I am allergic to the downstairs neighbor...
    ...
    I've looked at the housing options in my area. There are almost no studio or 1-bedroom apartments, houses, ...
    ...
    Is it just me or do I have a pretty good reason to panic right now?
    No reason to panic. You have several good options. You acknowledge that this is your allergy, which makes it your issue. Even if it is something as simple as changing dryer sheets, your neighbor has the right to do whatever they want within the bounds of their lease agreement. Look at it like you live in a pet-allowed apartment complex, and you have an allergy to pets. Only difference is that you live in a scented dryer sheet allowed apartment complex.

    All that to say, if the issue is yours then you are in your rights to leave if it causes you a health issue you can't live with. The next question is where do you go. You mentioned there are almost no places that can accommodate you. That's not so bad, because you just need one place. If you truly can't find anywhere to live in that city within your budget, you may be due a move. You mentioned you get SSI, so that would follow you wherever you go. I personally make a decent living and can afford to live almost wherever I want in the area of remote rural USA I live in, but I probably can't afford to live in Los Angeles. If you find you can't afford to live where you are, it may be a good idea for you to look outside the city.

    Sorry if this sounds pessimistic, but I'm just trying to help.
    Last edited by Skippy; 01-03-2016 at 04:13 PM.

  3. #3
    Skippy, I am 100% SURE I am not allergic to the cats. We've had them for 10 years, and the only things I am allergic to are neoprene, ACE inhibitor drugs (blood pressure and such), SSRI drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, ARTIFICIAL SCENT AGENTS OF ALL KINDS, and smoke. It's not like I can take one of the cats with me when I go anyway--they will be staying with the partner of 12 years who cannot help me continue to live in his airspace and who hates moving more than anything other than hospitals (he watched his mother die slowly on dialysis, holding her hand the entire time). I have a valid medical exemption to break my lease 10 months early without being held financially responsible for rent AND utilities in the home I must leave, but he does not. If he breaks his lease he will be held responsible for rent and utilities in the vacated unit until his lease runs out (in 10 months) or the unit is rented.

    The problem is NOBODY WHO KNOWS ME, my psychiatric AND medical care teams included, wants to see ME forced from my home because someone asked repeatedly to respect my right to live refuses to do so. I just had to walk through her dryer exhaust twice today and it stinks as badly as ever; since it is directly below the only door in or out of my unit this is a pretty serious allergen-exposure issue. As crowds, strangers, and vehicular traffic are three of my biggest panic triggers, urban life is NOT a survivable option (and NO I do not drive, have not since 2007 and hope never to have to again). This place was the safest haven I had ever found until the problem tenant moved in YEARS after we did and began her continuing refusal to acknowledge my humanity and right to keep breathing. People not related to her by genetics or marriage are not real people. I have found 3 places I could afford alone, and 2 of them have communal laundry rooms of exactly the sort my MD has told me NEVER to use again. The other, which would not leave me money for a phone or internet service, has no access to laundry facilities and no hookups for personal machines.

    Quoth Wikipedia: "The population was 4,348 at the 2010 census." This is the county seat for a county Wikipedia lists as 2,400 SQUARE MILES with a population of 40,212 spread across that area, so it's not exactly like I'm living the big-city lifestyle now! I've done it before...Portland, OR...Salem, OR...about 15 different areas of "Pugetropolis", which begins in the 120-something exits on Interstate 5 and ends at the last Marysville exit, which is 199. Fourteen years in Salem & Portland, 10 in Pugetropolis, so it is not without a knowledge base that I say city living will not be survivable!

    What I really want to know is how the Fair Housing laws can respect her right to ignore a medical problem with a high chance of fatality but cannot in any way protect ME.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snakeadelic View Post
    Skippy, I am 100% SURE I am not allergic to the cats.
    Sorry about the cat thing... I didn't mean to suggest you were allergic to animals. I was just saying to compare it to a situation where someone who was allergic to cats was living in a place that allowed cats. The substitution is that you are living in a place where the lease doesn't prohibit people from using scented dryer sheets, and you have an allergy to scented dryer sheets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snakeadelic View Post
    If he breaks his lease he will be held responsible for rent and utilities in the vacated unit until his lease runs out (in 10 months) or the unit is rented.
    So if you do find a new place to live, you're also going to need to possibly advertise for a sub-lease or someone to assume your lease, which does add to the trouble.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snakeadelic View Post
    ... my right to live ... and right to keep breathing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Snakeadelic View Post
    What I really want to know is how the Fair Housing laws can respect her right to ignore a medical problem with a high chance of fatality but cannot in any way protect ME.
    At first I wanted to say while you do have the right to live and breathe, inside an apartment someone else owns you might not have the right to allergen free air. But then I second thought that, and agree you very well might be right. This is trickier than I originally thought, and outside of my expertise (which is pretty much nothing). If I were you, I'd google "reddit legal advise". That's a community hangout where people ask legal questions and have the legally minded debate your issue free of charge. I don't know if it's legal for me to link from here to there, but I think it's pretty obvious I'm not benefiting from sending someone to Reddit. Good luck!

  5. #5
    Quote: So if you do find a new place to live, you're also going to need to possibly advertise for a sub-lease or someone to assume your lease, which does add to the trouble.

    My partner is NOT okay sharing space with strangers or even people he knows well. NO ONE was more surprised than me when he moved me in with him in Seattle in 2004 when he found out what kind of awful welcome awaited at what I had considered a family home, with me considered family, after I spent a week with him because I was on my first ever set of crutches and the house was being re-floored. The only person he MIGHT consider subletting to would have to be kicked out by his wife first. I will be submitting my eligibility papers for adult mental health care case management TOMORROW at 9:00 am when the relevant office opens, and I'll be working with an Adult Case Manager I've known for about nine years now. If there's a lawyer in Montana who is capable of finding a way to keep me from losing my home, partner, pets, and hobbies, she will know their name and number.

  6. #6
    FINALLY a positive change in circumstances! And even despite finding out that the only other disabled-affordable housing in town ALL features community coin-op laundry.

    I got my case manager back and signed a bunch of release forms, and boy howdy was the apartment manager surprised to find MY case manager's boss in her office yesterday asking why the disabled tenants were the ones not finding any protection from health hazards both mental and physical. Lucky for us, apt. mgr is very familiar with this case mgr and they get on very well. I got called down to join them, and filled out the forms for what was labeled "reasonable accommodation/modification". Apparently the upper-level management decided 8 years of rent on time and zero complaints is worth keeping after all. The intent is to install a small shunt in the form of a ventilation hose or pipe of some kind that will bolt over the problem neighbor's dryer vent and force the fumes south, toward the parking lot. If they actually do this, all I will ever have to do to be safe is walk around the north side of the building, which isn't far at all. And if a more respectful neighbor ever moves in downstairs, it will be 100% removable.

    Not long after, as I was going to check on the non-problem downstairs neighbor, the problematic gal was shuffling back from picking up her mail (part of the reason she makes me so freakin' nervous is she's an elderly mobility-impaired smoker who locks a small kid in with her 6-10 hours at a time and calls it 'babysitting'). Judging by the look she gave me (just about fried my hair off) she knows about the accommodation and strongly disapproves of ANY changes to what SHE wants, including something on the outside of the building that will in no way interfere with her life. The maintenance team, not the resident, will be responsible for maintaining the shunt and keeping it clog-free. There is a people-size side door into the garage nearest her front door--but that goes to MY garage. The people-door to hers is in her kitchen because she has the downstairs unit, so she won't even have to step over the pipe and yet still she seems extremely angry about the whole mess SHE caused. For those who've seen Fellowship of the Ring, think nasty shadowy roaring scary-face Bilbo when Frodo is trying to talk him into turning over the ring. That's what I see most every time I see her face--black angry eyes surrounded by shadow.

    And people wonder why I have so little interest in face-to-face interaction or social networking!

    Fingers crossed and good wishes much appreciated that this "reasonable modification" goes forward!

 

 

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