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HabiJax homeowner says ‘help is on the way' after City Council meeting

Councilwoman to walk through Fairway Oaks after pleas from residents

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fairway Oaks residents said they got some of the answers and help they were looking for from the Jacksonville City Council Tuesday night.

For over a month, the News4Jax I-TEAM has been digging into reports that show the area on Jacksonville’s Northside in which HabiJax chose to build the 85 homes in 2000 is located near a landfill that may not have been lined in the 1950s.

Within a few years after the homes were built by HabiJax and 10,000 volunteers in 17 days, residents said that they noticed their homes were shaking and unsettled.

Homeowners have been pleading for help and they shared their concerns at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. They’re working with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid in an effort to come to a resolution with the city, and they went before the Jacksonville Housing and Community Development Commission earlier this month to ask that money proposed for future HabiJax projects be diverted to help them instead.

“We’ve been complaining and our issues are real. They are real, real. And you are all welcome to come out and see just how real they are,” said Nathaniel Borden, president of the Fairway Oaks Homeowners Association.

For the past decade, residents said they have dealt with cracking slabs, sinking foundations and even termites. HabiJax said it’s addressed those issues in the past.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilwoman Katrina Brown spoke out in support of the HabiJax homeowners.

“Some of those homes are definitely not, some of the conditions are terrible conditions, infrastructure issues as far as the concrete is concerned. So I will be back out there Thursday,” Brown said.

Brown recommended that the residents come out to their next finance meeting so that other council members could further understand their issues – but not before other conciliatory members volunteered to help.

“My recommendation tonight is that you request a meeting on your location with the housing department and someone from environmental so that we can talk about those issues. You should do that. In fact, we should do it tonight,” Councilman Reginald Brown said.

At the end of public comment, administrators from the housing department and Environmental Quality Division met separately with Fairway Oaks residents to agree on a time and place for a meeting with the entire community.

“Help is on the way. Basically, what we’ve been asking for for the last 11 years now,” Borden said.

Brown will walk through Fairway Oaks Thursday and several other council members will also be coming out to the neighborhood so they can see the issues.

Borden said he was pleased with the results from the meeting.

“I feel real comfortable after sitting down and giving our public comment. We sat down with several people who said they didn’t know this issue was still going on and they thought the issue had been resolved. I felt real confident with a lot of the representatives that met with us after the meeting,” Borden said. “Something is being done now.”