JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The embattled owner of Eureka Gardens is under fire from federal U.S. Department of Housing and Development.
Reverend Richard Hamlet with the Global Ministries Foundation lost his HUD contract and federal taxpayer money to run two other properties in Memphis, Tennessee.
Hundreds of families are now being relocated.
Eureka Gardens Tenant Association President Tracy Grant was out walking the property Monday inspecting the stairs and checking in on her neighbors. Grant began calling on News4Jax in September to report deplorable living conditions at the property.
“If they have to relocate that's fine with me,” Grant said. “Me personally I just want him out of Jacksonville completely out of Jacksonville.”
HUD inspectors will be back at Eureka Gardens this week to re-inspect.
News4Jax exposed the squalor at the Memphis properties last November when the investigative team traveled to Tennessee to question Hamlet and see firsthand how his other properties were being operated. These investigative journalists were also the first to expose deplorable living conditions at Eureka Gardens back in September.
The contract for Global Ministries to run Eureka Gardens is up for renewal next month.
Since the investigative reports began, HUD ordered Hamlet's company to make immediate repairs at Eureka Gardens. That deadline was last Thursday. However repair crews were seen at the property Monday.
City Councilman Garrett Dennis was at the property Monday viewing the ongoing work firsthand, and said it could be a major problem.
Garrett said, “What concerns me is Global Ministries, Reverend Richard Hamlet sent a certified letter to federal HUD saying all the repairs were done and now you see them scurrying to still work, was that certification accurate?”
HUD is now accusing Hamlet of falsely certifying repairs at two Tennessee properties and that's why they've pulled his contract.
In a four-page letter to Reverend Hamlet from HUD it states, "The owner is required to maintain units in a decent, safe and sanitary manner and has failed to do so."
It also reads "a false certification is a serious violation...It may also have other consequences."
The letter indicates HUD is prepared to do what it needs to do to make sure they have safe and sanitary housing for the residents of Memphis. It is hoped they will take the same approach in Jacksonville.
In the letter obtained the re-inspection scores in Memphis were 50 percent and 52 percent.
Eureka Gardens was initially given an 85 percent last fall, but that score was later invalidated after our investigative reports.
News4Jax received a response from Hamlet’s attorneys stating, “Every Section 8 property presents unique challenges for companies like ours that chose to partner with HUD and local municipalities and invest in communities. When business partnerships on specific projects are not working for all parties, change is sometimes needed.”
The statement continued, “Our partnership with local, state and federal housing authorities in Jacksonville and other cities are all working well and to the benefit of all involved. Unfortunately, this was not the case with two struggling HUD properties in Memphis which had challenges historically that pre-dated GMF Investments. In this instance, GMF full-heartedly agrees that another investor may be better suited to rehabilitate these two Memphis properties. GMF looks forward to continuing to partner with HUD in communities that are home to low-income families.”
Hamlet is the president of Global Ministries Foundation (GMF), the parent company for both the Jacksonville and Memphis properties.