Now that the saga of Eureka Gardens, a private, public funded housing complex on the westside of Jacksonville, Florida has moved to the back pages and below the fold of the news cycle, what has changed? Nothing.
Mayor Lenny Curry armed with his heartfelt sympathy for the residents of Eureka and the full frontal inspection by his fire and code enforcement divisions, months ago has encouraged cosmetic changes at the Gardens.
The complaints of the residents and their advocates finally got the attention of local news media outlets who attempted to expose and portray the owner – Global Ministries Foundation – as a slum lord taking millions from taxpayers and pouring only hundreds back into the upkeep of his properties. It worked for about a month. Then reality set in.
Federal Housing and Urban Development-HUD, you see is actually in charge. They are responsible for giving the final yea or nay as to who gets the money that pays for the tenants who reside in these privately owned, but federally subsidized complexes. It is HUD that is ultimately responsible for inspecting the complexes, rating them and renewing the contracts with the “owners.”
City governmental authorities can only do what Curry did, inspect and fine the property owner and encourage corrective action. If the situation is bad enough, the local authority may be able to close a building for a time, but then comes the question, when you are dealing with a 400 unit complex such as Eureka or say, Washington Heights, which has the same owner by the way, where do you house the displaced residents?
There was never any chance that Eureka Gardens would be shuttered or that the residents would be moved. The reason? Where would they go? Who would house them? And equally important, what would become of a 400 unit apartment complex that could easily become a westside eyesore?
One city councilman remarked that if he lived in such conditions, he would move. That city councilman was educated to the facts: The residents of these federally subsidized rentals can only move if authorized by HUD. That authorization will generally only come when their lease is up or there is no other apartment available in the complex. If the resident leaves before the lease is up or is found in violation of the lease or any other HUD guideline, that resident could find themselves vanquished from the subsidy rolls.
So you see it pays to be dependent. It pays the complex owner to keep them dependent. It pays the resident to have a cheap roof over one’s head. It pays the HUD bureaucracy to have something to manage and rate. Again, it pays the complex owner in guaranteed millions of dollars a year in…profits.
The complex owner only has to meet HUD standards to keep the subsidy supplied by his tenants. And with a passing score from HUD since it has owned the property, Global Ministries Foundation will keep its contract and the residents will stay where they are.
And the Band played on…