JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The owner of the troubled Eureka Gardens apartment complex told News4Jax on Wednesday that the complex passed its recent inspection by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Rev. Richard Hamlet of Global Ministries Foundation said his organization has worked closely with HUD and the property’s management team to make the necessary investments and repairs to meet all local, state and federal standards and regulations.
"Today’s news of HUD’s passing score acknowledges the completed and on-going restoration work," Hamlet said in a statement. "GMF remains committed to continuing the steady progress which began when we acquired the property three years ago. We thank our residents, neighbors and local community leaders as they join us in identifying needs and restoring this important home to many families.”
GMF has 45 days to appeal the result, before HUD makes the report publicly available.
The Westside apartment complex has been under scrutiny since the fall, when News4Jax uncovered deplorable living conditions at the property. City and federal inspectors followed with a series of inspections and code enforcement raids.
City Councilman Garrett Dennis, who represents Eureka Gardens, said he had mixed reactions to learning the complex had passed its HUD inspection.
"The positive thing is that this apartment complex is being cleaned up and being renovated to have safe and sanitary living conditions for the residents," Dennis said. "The reaction is mixed but for the most part what we've seen happen is the tenants coming together and the city coming together, and we're holding Global Ministries accountable for the conditions over here at Eureka Gardens."
Dennis said he plans to continue that path as far as the city is concerned.
"We will continue to hold Rev. Hamlet and Global Ministries' feet to the fire," Dennis said.
A HUD spokesperson released the following statement Wednesday to News4Jax:
We want the residents to know we are committed to improving the quality of life in Eureka Gardens, not solely for a day or a week, or under threat of an impending inspection, but for the long term.
The HUD inspection on Feb 9 and 10th provided a snapshot that illustrates maintenance and the quality of life at Eureka Gardens is slowly improving. We trust in the inspector and the score but we also believe we need to verify long term progress. HUD's challenge is to ensure that this snapshot becomes status quo.
Consequently, we are formulating a plan that includes comprehensive follow-ups, including additional reviews to ensure promised repairs take place, are structurally sound and meet industry repair standards. An example would be the complete repair of the stairs throughout the complex. That work is scheduled to be completed in August, 2016 and we will return to Eureka Gardens to ensure it has been completed.
HUD conducted a comprehensive Management and Occupancy Review of Eureka Gardens in October 2015; however the score is not yet finalized. This review included an examination of the management team, in depth analysis of the records maintained by the Owner and Management Agent, and a review of the conditions at Eureka Gardens.
Consistent engagement with the tenants is essential in more thoroughly understanding and effectively addressing the issues at Eureka Gardens. HUD will continue to respond to tenant concerns via the contract administrator, the Tampa Housing Development Corporation. Responses to tenant concerns may include additional tenant meetings and one-on-one interactions between tenants and HUD. We will continue to engage with the city as well to see where they can assist us in ensuring management not only meets HUD's standards but, those of the city as well.
HUD will also continue monitoring GMF's financial expenditures on Eureka Gardens. We'll specifically be reviewing expenditures on areas such as maintenance and security.
We will continue to monitor GMF's entire HUD portfolio. Tenants residing in other GMF properties may notice HUD conducting Management and Occupancy Reviews in the near future.
HUD is fully committed to ensuring that GMF's contractual obligation for safe, sanitary housing is fulfilled throughout Jacksonville.
Global Ministries' contract with HUD to operate Eureka Gardens is currently scheduled to expire in March.