The Media School

Mold issues mark transitional time for Bloomington student housing

April 18th, 2019 by
Photograph by Connor Hines

Less than two months after Sam Neidermann moved into Evolve Bloomington, he was told to leave for a 10-day span due to mold and moisture issues in his unit. This is not an isolated case, as students all over Bloomington have dealt with similar issues during the 2018-19 school year.

IU junior Sam Neidermann didn’t know what lay ahead when he agreed last summer to live at Evolve, one of the newest state-of-the-art choices for student housing in Bloomington. As a first-year transfer student from the University of Alabama, he thought Evolve seemed like the perfect option and was convinced to sign a 12-month lease.

“The location is prime,” he said. “It’s convenient. It looked like a very attractive option from what they advertised.”

 Neidermann is one of hundreds of students who were affected by mold and moisture issues at various on and off campus housing locations. In addition to the issues at Evolve, mold in the Foster and McNutt residence halls will force more than 1,000 students off campus for the 2019-20 school year. 

According to Evolve leasing manager Sara Glenn, the original problem was a water leak, which occurred in mid-September, eventually creating bigger issues at the new complex.

Neidermann became aware of the problem in October and was given notice three weeks in advance that he would need to move out for staff to correct the issues. During that time, he spent 10 days just down 17th street at the Home2 Suites on Walnut Street.

“We thought we were in the clear for a while, and then we had to move out,” he said. “Especially in the meaty part of the semester, it was a real nuisance.”

Neidermann’s case was slightly different because the concern in his unit was abnormally high moisture levels. Still, he was asked to evacuate so the staff could return the unit to its normal state to prevent future mold.

Photograph courtesy of Sam Neidermann

Neidermann says that some Evolve residents were forced to stay at other locations for months, while others were unable to move into their units at all.

What is more surprising is the fact that these issues arose in mere weeks after Evolve officially opened for business last fall, according to Glenn.

“Evolve sourced out a contractor that didn’t do its job, and we take that fault,” she said. “It was totally unexpected and untimely at the beginning of the semester, without a doubt.”

Because construction last summer eventually fell behind schedule, some put the blame on rushing the project so it could be ready by September, Glenn said.

In an email sent to residents on Sept. 18 of last year, Evolve staff originally planned to have students back in their units within a week. Still, that was before mold further developed. According to Neidermann, the apartment complex management has since moved on.

“They’ve recovered well in terms of building the entire complex up to what it was advertised to be,” he said.

Evolve residents’ agitations with mold were not isolated events.

According to IU spokesman Chuck Carney, students living in Foster and McNutt residence halls were forced to relocate to off-campus locations not long after Evolve’s issues surfaced.

Carney said it was time for remodeling to take place, especially in the older residence halls on-campus. The mold will jumpstart a previously planned remodel of three dorms: Foster, McNutt, and Teter.

“We thought we were in the clear for a while, and then we had to move out. Especially in the meaty part of the semester, it was a real nuisance.” – Sam Neidermann, IU junior

IU authorities signed contracts with three off-campus apartment complexes, which will serve as housing for these students, Carney said. Campus will be easily accessed from these locations via bus routes, and residents will also pay a lower rate for a 10-month lease, versus the standard 12-month option.

While sanctioned by IU, these complexes will not be entirely occupied by displaced students. They’ll be living side-by-side with other residents who signed leases under standard conditions.

As a result, off-campus housing will become more crowded with students and Bloomington residents alike, but it shouldn’t have a great lasting impact on the community while dorm reconstruction is underway, according to Carney.

“We do believe that this will help alleviate some of the stress on the system,” he said. “We need to be sure we have adequate housing for everyone.”

Additionally, IU staff is handling these changes while ensuring that all incoming freshmen will still be living on-campus next fall.

“We believe that’s an important part of the undergraduate education and experience here at IU,” Carney said. “It’s not a small thing and we intend to continue to uphold that.”

While the remodeled dormitories will eventually pay dividends for IU students, Carney said the changes won’t be coming in the immediate future. IU’s housing renovation will not be completed by the original target date, which was fall of 2020. As a result, the finish date will push the project back an additional 12 months. According to Carney, it is yet another indicator that Bloomington’s student housing options are in the midst of a massive transition.

“I know that many students have been frustrated throughout this process, but it’s really something that we’re continuing to work on,” he said. “This is not something that we just suddenly feel like we solved. We’re going to make sure that everything is the way it should be.”