Homeless Community Leader In Danger from Leaky Placement

Tuesday December 18, 2018 - 08:39:00 PM

Marcia Poole reports that Mike Zint, a leader in the homeless community who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is experiencing a rapid decline in health due to a persistent leak into the apartment where he has been placed by Berkeley agencies. COPD causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus (sputum) production and wheezing.

She reports that "the HUB [Berkeley’s CENTRAL ENTRY POINT for Homeless Services]placed him at the edge of Oakland and San Leandro and neglected him for many months. His apartment has been inundated with water. He has severely restricted lung capacity and this is totally unacceptable. ... Please act immediately. It is only merciful to stop this continued cruelty to those who are in difficult circumstances. I beg of you."  

From Mike Zint: 

"My landlord doesnt care if my roof leaks. So far, I have dumped over 40 gallons of water. The kitchen is soaked. There are 7 leaks and they are growing. The ceiling is falling in in one spot. 

"The HUB knows. Or they did before I lost my worker. 

"I guess they don't understand what it's like to have serious COPD. There are days I pant when I cross the room. Now, I have to deal with buckets of water every two hours. 

"For 5 years, my tent NEVER leaked!" 

Marcia Poole says:  

"He had to endure that episode for 5 days before it was fixed. I just got off the phone with Mike and the kitchen ceiling leaks in his apartment again. The ceiling has big bubbles where the water is pushing through and his floors, counters, stove, water heater, etc are all covered with the water. He again posted photos of it on Facebook. 

"Mike emailed the Berkeley HUB and his landlord today between 10 AM - 11:30 AM, after bailing out water buckets since 2 AM, but no one contacted him back. Three weeks ago it was worse. It actually was raining inside his apartment. Now, the leaks that were "repaired" leaked for hours until the rains stopped.  

"Mike Zint was originally placed in this apartment by Berkeley's HUB [ when he was critically ill and homeless, and then Berkeley proceeded to strand and abandon him. When he had to bail water in late November, he became severely weakened from the effort. It took many days for Berkeley to step forward, pressure the landlord to repair the leaks and then they effectively abandoned Mike to the next big rain. He now is over 6 feet tall, weighs 93 pounds, is weakened, has been exposed to mold from the major leaks but still is managing to haul and bail, since that seems to be part of price Berkeley demands he pay for his lodging. 

"Paul Buddenhagen [Interim Deputy City Manager] suggested, after the event in the November, that Berkeley HUB rehouse Mike in an apartment in Berkeley as soon as possible. Immediately, though, the ball was dropped and Mike finds himself in the same situation, with the holidays looming and Berkeley offices imminently shutting down and another big rain storm predicted for the 23rd. Can't we do better than this? Can't we rehouse Mike in an apartment where it doesn't rain through the ceiling and require him to use his dwindling strength to bail the water? At least, if he were rehoused in a Berkeley apartment, his friends, most of whom who lack cars, could come to him and help." 

In an open letter to the Berkeley City Council and administration Marcia Poole made this plea: "I ask you once again to go to the aid of Mike Zint and see that he is dry and secure and near people who can assist him. To place a man in his condition in an apartment with so many serious habitability issues, and so isolate and abandon him, is inhumane. Inhumane."