Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- David Darby, a former resident of Allen Benedict Court, shared a doctor's letter with News 19. He says it highlights just how serious the mold problem was in his building, even dating back to 2013.
"It's been years and years of negligence on behalf of the Housing Authority," said Darby.
Darby lived at the Allen Benedict Court apartments from 2013 to 2018. Those are the public housing units where two men died and 400 people had to be evacuated last month over hazardous living conditions.
"Moving to Allen Benedict Court, you're kind of on your own. It's a risk to live there," he said. "I didn't know it. I needed some place to live."
He lived in the Y building.
In documents uncovered by our Deep Dive team, they show Darby filed at least two work orders last March.
One said he couldn't bathe because the bathtub was in poor condition, and the other said to check his heater for repairs because he was "afraid it may catch fire because of the dust."
"If you attempted to light the [stove] with a lighter or a match or something, it would blow up," said Darby. "The hot water heater was nothing but a hotel for rats and roaches."
Those issues aside, Darby says the worst of his problems came in the form of mold and mildew.
"Instead of scraping it off the wall on the inside of the door, it was always under the window where it would leak under the window," he said. "Instead of scraping it all off, they painted over it and it grew back."
Darby says his health paid the price.
"My condition worsened by me being a resident there...I've been to the hospital since residing there 15 times with the same thing. Everybody said it was COPD," he said. "They'd release me from the hospital, I'd do alright for a couple of days, then right back to the hospital."
News 19 obtained a letter written by Darby's doctor in 2013 addressing the mold in his apartment at Allen Benedict.
It says, in part:
"Mr. Darby has a diagnosis of advanced end stage COPD. He's dependent on supplemental oxygen, and he has been hospitalized multiple times for this condition...This condition places him at a higher risk for developing respiratory distress. In this respect, it is important for Mr. Darby to avoid any possible respiratory irritants such as mold. For this reason, I request that Mr. Darby's concerns be investigated as soon as possible and the appropriate action be taken."
"I'm in the end stages of emphysema," said Darby. "He wrote that letter because he was almost convinced too that it was indeed the apartment."
Darby lives in a new home now under the Columbia Housing Authority.
He says conditions are better, and so is his health. For that, he's grateful.
"I don't know when I'm gonna expire. I really don't," said Darby. "Whatever His will is, that's what's gonna be done. God just didn't see fit for me to die like that, because to me, that would have been dying like a dog."
Darby is the cousin of Calvin Witherspoon Jr., one of the men who died of carbon monoxide poisoning January 17 inside the J Building of the Allen Benedict Court apartments.