Fix the problems by Saturday or don’t get paid. That’s the message Jacksonville housing officials have for the landlords of a troubled apartment complex that the News4JAX I-TEAM first exposed last month.
City leaders tell the I-TEAM that management at the Cascade Apartments in Grand Park has been told to correct all problems by Saturday otherwise affected residents can withhold their rent. The I-TEAM first reported on the problems on July 24th when residents came forward to complain they were dealing with rats, roaches, mold among other horrible living conditions.
“We are having to live with the roaches, the rats, the holes in the wall, the water leaking,” said resident April Sizemore, a mother of two.
“That mold itself is not going to help any of our lungs. Any apartment out here has that,” she said. “I don’t have Section 8. I don’t have hood, public housing. Have I put an application in? Yes, sir, I have. Am I still on the waiting list? Yes, I am. Am I hoping and praying that I get approved? Yes, I am,” Sizemore said.
Friday, the city’s public affairs staff sent News4JAX a timeline on what the city and federal officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development have been doing to rectify the problems. Three days after the first I-TEAM report first aired, the Jacksonville Housing Authority inspected 26 out of 30 units and found eight with life-threatening health and safety issues such as smoke detectors that didn’t work. The next day JHA confirmed the life-threatening issues in those eight units were 100-percent fixed. On July 31st, JHA inspected more units. 29 contained health and safety issues like pest infestation, no working cooling system, leaks in the bathroom and kitchen.
Friday, JHA did a second inspection to make sure issues were addressed. Starting Saturday, if there are any units that haven’t been fixed rent will be suspended for the people living there.
The Jacksonville Housing Authority (JHA) is an agency that provides public and subsidized housing in the River City. The waitlist for assistance from JHA is currently more than 145,000 people.
Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan and her team visited the Cascade Apartments July 25 after learning of the conditions from the I-TEAM report. State and federal inspectors also followed up.
Senator Rubio sent a statement that same week.
“Members of my staff recently visited Cascade Apartments in Jacksonville. They found the conditions to be disgusting and deplorable. These residents deserve better. Floridians deserve to live in safe and clean homes, without having to worry about crumbling walls, mold, pests, and other health hazards. I am calling on the management of Cascade to immediately address these issues and to ensure that all of their residents are living in habitable conditions.”
A HUD spokesperson also sent a statement on behalf of the agency: “Everyone deserves to live in a home that is decent, safe, and sanitary. When HUD became aware of the conditions reported at the property, our staff made a site visit to observe conditions directly. We understand from the property management that renovations are in progress, and we will remain engaged with the property and with local government to encourage quick completion.”
Florida corporation records show Cascade Residential LLC is registered to Yaniv Amar and Ely Levy of Hollywood, Florida. Lafayette Management is in charge of the property. Neither has commented since the developments, but Mayor Deegan said both entities came to the table to talk with her office.
It is not subsidized, nor insured by HUD. However, HUD oversees the property’s use restriction to keep its 182 units affordable for low income residents.
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