SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A woman who has been fighting heart failure her entire life is trying to survive in affordable housing, which she worries is compromising her health.

More than 30 years ago, KPIX 5’s Barbara Rogers helped save three-year-old Corie Crowe’s life. Now Crowe is hoping this news story can help save her home.

At 34, Crowe is one of the longest surviving heart transplant patients in the country. Back in 1988, Crowe needed a heart transplant to survive. Transplants for children under the age of five were considered experimental then, and her mother’s insurance didn’t cover the procedure, so Crowe’s mother called KPIX. Rogers’ story helped get Crowe the heart she needed to survive.

“Barbara Rogers was the first line in essentially saving my life,” Crowe said.

Crowe’s immune system is weakened from her transplant, so she’s unable to hold down a steady job. Because of this, she qualified for a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher from the Santa Clara County Housing Authority. For the past five years, she’s been living in the Enclave apartments in San Jose. This summer, her living conditions and her health took a turn.

Crowe found black mold crawling through her cabinets. She also says her stove is leaking fumes causing her to feel lightheaded. Crowe’s doctors at Stanford University Medical Center wrote to the SCC Housing Authority and the managers of the Enclave expressing concern for “not just her immediate health and well-being, but her long term prognosis.”

The black mold growing in Crowe’s apartment (CBS)

In July, Crowe packed up her entire apartment, hoping the building manager would allow her to move into one of the Enclave’s 25 vacant apartments, but that hasn’t happened.

“I feel like I’m on my way to a hearse and then this will be the U-Haul that’s going to follow it,” Crowe said while tearfully pointing at her boxed up belongings.

The Enclave denied KPIX requests for an interview for this story and the SCC Housing Authority said it’s not legally able to discuss individual voucher recipients cases.

The waitlist for Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers in Santa Clara County is eight to ten years long. The last time the Housing Authority took applications for new vouchers was in 2006. Currently, 4,000 people are waiting for placement. Crowe worries if she loses this apartment, she’ll end up on the street.

“Forever I’m in limbo, just scared I’m going to be homeless,” Crowe said.

She’s now working with Project Sentinel, a nonprofit that specializes in preventing discrimination in housing. Sources there tell KPIX that Crowe is entitled to Reasonable Accommodation under the Fair Housing Act, which states that property owners may have to make exceptions for individuals with disabilities like Crowe.

Crowe’s condition has diminished to the point that she qualifies for a live in caretaker, so she hopes to relocate to a two-bedroom apartment.

If life has taught her one thing, it’s how to fight. She’s already had a change of heart–now she needs to change her home.

“When it looks like all hope is lost, as long as you have breath in your body, there’s still a fighting chance. That’s how I have to look at this situation,” Crowe said.

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