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Fairway Oaks residents finally get answers, but questions remain

For years, residents have begged for HabiJax-built homes to be repaired

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Residents of the Fairway Oaks neighborhood who have been fighting for years to get repairs to what they call "poorly built HabiJax homes" are finally seeing results, but one issue still remains.

For months, the News4Jax I-TEAM has been digging into reports that show the area in Northwest Jacksonville, 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 five 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, and homeowners also began complaining about cracked slabs, sinking, mold and termites.

Attorneys for the city, HabiJax and Jacksonville Area Legal Aid began discussions in August about finding possible solution that would benefit all sides.

After several meetings, Nathaniel Borden, president of the Fairway Oaks Homeowners Association, told the I-TEAM that the city, HabiJax and Legal Aid came to agreement in November to evaluate each of the 85 homes.

"They, basically, agreed that all three of them will actually come out and come to terms about what needed to be done," Borden explained Wednesday. 

According to Borden, all three sides mutually decided that they would each bring in their own engineer to determine which homes were repairable and which homes needed to be demolished. The solution sounded promising, but Borden said there was still one remaining issue.

"Right now, testing was not on the table. And from day one that has been our objective to come back and see what it is we are living on," Borden said. 

The 1997 report found that pesticides, chromium, lead and arsenic were detected in one soil sample taken from Golfbrook Drive and Brook Forest Drive and aluminum was found in four of the soil samples.

Those findings are why testing the soil is vital, explained Fairway Oaks resident Detrese Mixon.

"The homes are going to stand, but the children will die off from lead poisoning, cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer. That's what all the metals lead up to -- cancer -- and this is stuff that can be avoided," Mixon said. 

So residents rejected that offer from both the city and HabiJax because it didn't include soil testing. 

Until a final solution is reached, residents have had two separate foundation specialist companies evaluate whether placing pillars in the homes would be an option. But even those experts agreed on what needs to happen first. 

"On Ram Jack's report and Alpha's report, they basically stated that testing will need to done to the soil to actually obtain the material that is in the soil," Borden said. 

According to Ram Jack Foundation Repair's report, the two homes they tested have sank even further since they they were tested two weeks ago. 

Ram Jack will return to the subdivision Thursday to test seven more homes. 

An exact date has not yet been set for when engineers will begin their assessments. The I-TEAM reached out to the city Wednesday afternoon for a timeline, but was told it'll take some time to get that information.