Durham, N.C. — A 24-year-old Durham mother and her four children have been living with a roach infestation for months. Natayah Robinson, whose children are all ages seven and under, described her home in Liberty Street Apartments as “absolutely crawling with roaches.”
The infestation so bad that they can’t even eat inside their apartment – or even sleep, without the roaches crawling all over them at night. She’s had to throw away the majority of their furniture and clothes – expensive items the family sorely needs.
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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
WRAL viewers begin reaching out to help
Within a few hours since Robinson’s story was released, multiple viewers reached out to ask how to help. So far. dozens of viewers have donated over $7,000 for the family in less than 24 hours.
Robinson has created a GoFundMe for people who would like to help her family.