JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville City Councilwoman said she is very concerned about the living conditions of her constituents in the Fairway Oaks community, and she has even participated in a walkthrough of the Northside neighborhood.
Councilwoman Katrina Brown issued a statement Thursday to the News4Jax I-TEAM on the alleged sinking homes in the Fairway Oaks subdivision, which were built in 17 days by HabiJax and 10,000 volunteers.
For the last week, the News4Jax I-Team has been digging into reports that show the area where HabiJax chose to build the 85 homes 16 years ago was built on part of a landfill. Now, an inspection report shows several of those homes are beginning to sink.
Residents said the original builder is not owning up.
“Our last (City) Councilwoman Denise Lee stated that she was going to do something. And nothing got done. And then Mayor Alvin Brown said he was going to do something, but nothing got done. So basically, we feel that Katrina Brown will need the help of the whole city and City Council to actually be able to help us in this matter, because it’s been going on now over 10 years,” said Nathaniel Borden, president of the Fairway Oaks Homeowners Association.
Borden has provided the I-TEAM with numerous documents prepared by Jacksonville Legal Aid, which had plans on taking HabiJax to court in 2007.
The documents show that the neighborhood was built on part of an old landfill that was first turned into city housing in the 1970s and later demolished due to settling in the 1990s. In 2000, HabiJax bought the land for $1 to build the 85 homes. Now, residents said they are experiencing the same sinking issue, as well as cracked foundations, cracked walls, leaky plumbing and even rashes.
According to Ram Jack Foundation Repair, repairs would be $25,000 to $30,000 for each home. That’s why residents said they want HabiJax to take responsibility.
“Everyone has said they're going to do something and look into it,” Borden said.
The I-TEAM reached out to Brown to see what she could do about it. She issued the following statement:
“The city is aware of all the issues surrounding the Fairway Oaks community, we have met with the residents at a community meeting specifically held for this issue, participated in pre-lawsuit mediation in an attempt to resolve the case and the city continues to be in contact with attorneys for the residents about this matter and the litigation status. My office is very concerned about the living conditions of our constituents, and participated in a walkthrough of the neighborhood. However, we can't comment on this case any more than that, since the residents are represented by attorneys and the litigation process has been initiated on their behalf.”
Though residents said they feel they’re getting the run around, their representative, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, said the case is strong.
Residents told the I-TEAM that they will continue to fight for this case to go to court so they can end this nightmare and get back to the height of happiness they once had.
There is no word yet on when the court documents will be filed against HabiJax, but Jacksonville Legal Aid continues to communicate with both the city and HabiJax to see if they can come to some sort of agreement before this goes to court.
HabiJax still maintains that their inspectors came out in 2000, 2007 and 2013, and there were no structural damages.