JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville city councilman is making a pitch to remove low-income housing vouchers from a Westside apartment complex if the owners don't improve security.
The year-long fight over security at the Eureka Gardens apartments will come to a head Tuesday night at city hall.
City Councilman Warren Jones is pushing for the city council to officially request that the federal housing and urban development program temporarily remove Section 8 vouchers from the Eureka Gardens apartments unless security improves.
Jones believes the only thing that can help the complex that has suffered from chronic crime is fencing and on-site security. This became an issue for Eureka Gardens months ago after a few cases of violent crime popped up in the complex.
"Police officers have told me on several occasions that they can work here off duty but because it's so open, they don't know who's a resident and who's passing through. So it is a problem and I hope we can convince the owner to take some pro-active steps," Jones said.
Jones has been talking about the idea for the past year, but now that he's weeks away from his term expiring in July, he decided to put legislation to paper and ask HUD to officially withdraw Section 8 vouchers from residents at Eureka Gardens.
That federal money is the primary source of income for the complex and without it, a large amount of residents would have no way to pay rent.
I guess they thought it was a non-issue because things had quieted down. But the people that live here are still living in fear. They still hear gunshots each and every night and some of the residents had called the office and complained," Jones said.
Jones said he hopes this forces management to increase security but the owner of the complex, Global Ministries Foundation, based in Tennessee, feels that Jones is only doing this for political reasons.
In a statement to News4Jax, reverend Richard Hamlet said;
"In the 2 and ½ years that GMF has owned Eureka Gardens, our management team has made significant progress in the upgrade of the housing facility, the continued enhancement of crime prevention and crime deterrence within this neighborhood vicinity"
At the end of the day though the city council has no jurisdiction over section-8 vouchers, this would just be an official request to the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to withhold the vouchers if security does not improve.
Jones also said that he understands the effects of removing the vouchers and doesn't want to make affordable housing go away, he just wants to make it safe, clean and sanitary.