Local News

WRAL viewers donate over $14,000 for mother, children living in roach-filled affordable housing

Posted September 26, 2020 11:32 a.m. EDT
Updated September 27, 2020 6:07 p.m. EDT

— Natayah Robinson, a 24-year-old mother of four young children, whose family has been living with a roach infestation for months, received an overwhelming outpouring of support from the community after her story aired on WRAL.

The infestation in their affordable housing unit in Durham is so bad that they can't even eat inside their apartment – or even sleep, without the roaches crawling all over them at night. She had to throw away the majority of their furniture and clothes – expensive items the family sorely needs.

The roaches have infiltrated every nook and cranny of the apartment.

Robinson said she moved to the Triangle to create a better life for her children, but the situation has her so depressed that she wants to cry.

However, after her story aired on WRAL TV, phones at the station began to ring and email boxes began to fill up with messages from locals who wanted to know how to help.

Viewers offered everything from financial donations, to donations of furniture, clothes, food and bug bombs to help support the family who has lost so much.

Roaches crawling up the door frame. Robinson said roaches infest the closets, dressers, furniture and every room.

In response, Robinson, who had not realized there would be such an outpouring of support, created a GoFundMe to make it easier for people who wanted to help.

In less than 24-hours, WRAL viewers have donated over $10,000 for Robinson and her four young children. Plus, many viewers have reached out to help her replace her furniture and clothes. As of Sunday, that total stands at over $14,000.

She said, "This money will go to all of my children's needs."

Robinson posted a statement of gratitude on Saturday, saying, "Thank you everyone for all of your donations. Me and my children are beyond grateful. I will do all the right things and let everyone know who has helped me step by step."

Living in a roach-filled apartment

Robinson, whose children are all ages seven and under, described her home in Liberty Street Apartments as "absolutely crawling with roaches."

The kids can't concentrate on their virtual learning classes because of the constantly crawling bugs.

Robinson said she's been reaching out to the Durham Housing Authority for help for months – but hasn't gotten any.

Robinson has four children, ages 7 and under.

"It’s heartbreaking. Depressing. Very depressing. I cry most of the night, actually," said Robinson.

Every closet is cluttered with roaches; the kitchen is cluttered with roaches, too. The living room is also infested. No where in the apartment is safe from the infestation, according to Robinson.

"It’s depressing. I’m not even from here. I came here to make a better life for my children. And these projects, actually they’re worse than the Jersey projects, to be honest," she said.

At night, the children come into their mother's room to tell her there are roaches crawling on their beds. The roaches, she said, had made a nest deep in the metal and wood of the bed.

Roaches crawling up the wall. Robinson said roaches infest the closets, dressers, furniture and every room.

"I had to throw their beds away. I had to keep getting them new beds, new sheets, like try to Raid, or bomb, and it’s just not working," said Robinson.

For the past two months, the infestation has impacted their quality of life in every way -- they can't eat, sleep, maintain clothing, or even go to school in peace.

Robinson said she's asked the Durham Housing Authority for assistance several times.

"I’ve been asking them to come bomb, they haven’t been bombing," she said. "They haven’t done anything. Actually yesterday was the first time they actually came. I had these roach problems for months. They didn’t do nothing about the roaches."

Even the dressers have become a home for the roaches. After throwing away most of her children's clothes, she's still struggling with roaches infesting the new ones. Every time she takes their clothes to the laundromat, she said she's embarrassed to have roaches crawling out of her bags.

While the roaches are the most visible and pressing issue, Robinson said they aren't the only problem the family's faced in the complex.

"My sink had broke, and it almost fell on my daughter’s feet. It took them three days to come repair it," said Robinson.

Being only 24 and raising four children, Robinson said she already faces many struggles. But the infestation has ruined their ability to even do basic things.

Her daughter, 7-year-old Siaa Robinson, said, "We keep our house clean and it smells good and they still be out."

A hole in the wall of Robinson's apartment. The children described roaches crawling out of this hole.

"When we’re asleep the roaches be crawling on us in the bed and they be crawling on the wall," said Siaa, who wants to get rid of the roaches because she doesn't like how they move and sound.

"They always crawl in the food," she said.

Siaa tries to look on the bright side, saying, "At least I'm still alive. But I'm going to get sick like this."

The roaches have infiltrated every nook and cranny of the apartment.

Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott responded Friday, saying he is looking into why Robinson's complaints were not answered by DHA staff.

If other residents are having issues with a lack of responsiveness, he wants them to reach out to his office directly.

He said Robinson's apartment had a routine extermination a couple weeks ago – but will now get an additional extermination Monday. ​

In the meantime, Robinson has already had major added expenses due to the roaches, such as having to replace clothing for four children, as well as beds and furniture.

Robinson said she's heartbroken that her children have lost their ability to even enjoy school – and that they can't be comfortable in their own home. For now, she's not sure when to expect life to return to normal.

"It makes me want to cry," said Robinson.

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