FAMILIES whose homes are riddled with damp and mould have launched a Facebook campaign demanding action.
And tenants living in Calico properties in Burnley say the cold conditions are putting their health at risk.
Fifty eight residents, many with children, have joined a Facebook group called ‘Mould Free Social Housing in Burnley’, created by Brunshaw ward councillor Lian Pate, to share stories and photographs of the problems they are experiencing.
Residents backing the campaign say they have to endure black mould growing on inside walls, freezing temperatures, pools of water inside their houses, and extortionate heating bills.
Coun Pate said: “This has been going on for years, but Calico have told people that they are the only ones with the problem.
“We need Calico to step up to the plate and we need to treat people who live in social housing the same as those who live in private housing. We need these buildings treating."
Anthony Duerden, Calico's director of customer services, said: "We encourage customers to report any problems with damp to us.
“Like all landlords who manage a large number of properties, we see an increase in the number of damp problems reported during the winter period when it is cold and wet.
"There are a number of reasons why a property could have a problem with damp and therefore all reports are investigated and work is carried out where necessary."
Diane McDermott, 36, joined the campaign group after she believes one of her daughters suffered a serious chest infection caused by the damp conditions in her Rossetti Avenue home.
Diane said: “Last November my daughter was in hospital with a collapsed lung because of a chest infection.
“Both of my girls have got asthma.
“My house is absolutely freezing. It’s still cold even with the central heating on. I work and I’m a single parent.
“I want a nice house for me and my kids.
“I don’t want to be here, it’s disgusting. They need to pull these houses down.”
Nichola Whitaker, 34, lives on Waddington Avenue with her husband and her sons Daniel, three, and Logan, one.
She said: “My house is freezing. I can’t keep it heated. I spend £200 to £250 a month on gas and electricity and I can’t afford it.
“I’ve got two children with chest infections. Even the doctors are questioning why they keep coming down with chest infections.”
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “I have come across a few cases of people coming to me and complaining about damp and mould in their Calico homes, especially the older properties.
“I think that Calico are a good housing provider and whenever I have contacted them, they have made efforts to combat the problem.
“However, it is 2014 and it is not acceptable for this many people to be living in such conditions.
“Living with damp, mould and stuff growing out of the walls is not what anyone deserves and it can be extremely bad for people’s health and cause a lot of problems.
“This problem really needs to be sorted out quickly.”
Chartered surveyor Paul Tracey said the problems could have been caused by poor construction.
He said: “What you tend to find is a lack of ventilation, and the build quality can be a bit poor.
“If the walls are cold and hot air from showers or cooking touches them it leads to condensation and mould, but if they had better insulation the walls wouldn’t be as cold.
“Ventilation is key because it takes the air out with all the moisture in it. You have to leave ventilation space in the roof, all round the outside, and if they haven’t done this then things like this happen.
“If people can’t afford to put the heating on it can make the problem worse because the walls will be colder all the time.
“But there’s always something that can be done to address the problem.”