I-TEAM: Excess trash hauled away after complaints from residents at Towers of Jacksonville

Residents of senior housing community in San Marco said it hadn’t been collected for about a week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.Editors note: Since the original publication of this article, the owner of the housing complex contacted News4JAX with new information, which has been added to this article.

The owner of a Jacksonville housing community for seniors said they are beginning to clean up piles of trash that accumulated at the Towers of Jacksonville after the I-TEAM brought them the complaints of residents.

Spokespersons for the city of Jacksonville and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) told the News4JAX I-TEAM on Tuesday that they were looking into reports of garbage that had piled up at a senior housing community in San Marco.

Residents said Tuesday morning that trash hadn’t been collected for at least a week. By 4:30 p.m., a spokesperson for the housing community said the trash had finally been hauled away and that waste collectors would return Wednesday.

Joan Howard said she has been living at the Towers of Jacksonville about five years. Earlier in the day, she showed the I-TEAM two dumpsters full of trash behind the building. A large pile of garbage bags and a discarded mattress laid next to it Tuesday morning.

“The smell, the stinkiness, the bacteria and everything — it’s awful to smell,” Howard said. “It’s awful to look like that.”

The I-TEAM observed clogged trash chutes and piles of foul-smelling garbage bags in trash rooms on several floors of the building.

“It’s very stinky, and it’s going to cause the roaches,” said resident Rhonda Riggins.

“We need some help,” Howard said. “We need some help in this elderly senior building.”

The Retirement Housing Foundation, which owns the Towers of Jacksonville, said through a spokesperson Tuesday afternoon the issue stemmed from the private trash hauler. The spokesperson said they had been in communication with the waste collection service since last week to alleviate the problem, and they had been assured that the trash would be picked up Monday.

“When that didn’t happen, we called them again for a Tuesday pickup, and they said they would be unable to pick the trash up today – and didn’t give us a reason why,” the statement reads. “So we had another company come in to pick up the excess trash.” They said their usual contractor assured them they will pick up the dumpster trash Wednesday.

The spokesperson said Retirement Housing Foundation is still working to determine what happened and will be monitoring the situation to make sure the dumpster garbage gets collected.

The Towers of Jacksonville houses low and fixed income seniors, according to its website. The website also states that rent costs are subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Residents told the I-TEAM that not all units are subsidized for low-income residents.

A spokesperson from HUD said they were looking into the issue, in a response to the I-TEAM’s request for comment.

A city spokesperson spoke to the I-TEAM earlier in the day, saying a private hauler is contracted to pick up waste at the Towers of Jacksonville. A comment reads: “We have looked into this and there seems to be a solution, but we are not at liberty to discuss details because this is a private transaction between the property and the hauler.”

About the Author:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter