By Sebastian Kitchen
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio last week called for a federal criminal investigation into the Tennessee-based owner of the Eureka Garden and Washington Heights subsidized apartment complexes in Jacksonville.
Rubio toured the 400-unit Eureka Garden complex and called conditions there “atrocious” and “clearly not habitable for humans.” Joined by City Council member Garrett Dennis, Mayor Lenny Curry and top officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, their concerns have included mold, gas leaks, water damage, and the stairs, some of which were patched with painted tape.
Owned by Tennessee based Global Ministries, the company owns more than 60 complexes in several states and received $6.3 million in federal funding in 2014 to subsidize rent at its six Jacksonville properties. Global Ministries has placed the complex and 10 other properties up for sale in the wake of constant criticism from local and federal government officials.
Rubio questioned, if the properties are profitable and people are so interested, where is the money from taxpayers going. He said it was obvious from his tour it was not going into the apartments. Curry said his administration would closely monitor the sale and work closely with HUD.
While walking down stairs out of one upstairs apartment, a resident showed Curry a severely damaged, rusted support for the patio and apartment entrance above. “Are you kidding me?” Curry asked. He became more agitated when he learned children lived in the apartment directly under the damaged patio. “There’s babies living down there.” Curry told the residents he would get code enforcement to inspect. “It’s sad,” Curry said. “This is my city. … We are not going to tolerate this.”