Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Al Lawson talk HUD reform in Jacksonville - Florida Politics

Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Al Lawson talk HUD reform in Jacksonville

Jacksonville’s Eureka Garden apartment complex has been in the news for a number of years.

First came the crime reports. Then came reports about mold, broken windows, gas leaks, and other infrastructural nightmares for the 400-unit HUD complex on Jacksonville’s Westside.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio called for reforms to the HUD process, and for new ownership.

And right now, the ownership transition is underway.

Millennia Housing Management took over the management of the complex from the still-current owners, Global Ministries Foundation.

MHM is ready to put capital in; however, until formal transfer of the GMF portfolio concludes, there’s only so much they will invest.

And therein lies an issue for the long-suffering Eureka Garden residents.

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson has made Eureka a focus, discussing issues at the complex during his 2016 campaign, and visiting the apartments during his last Congressional recess.

Tuesday saw Lawson double down — accompanied by another newcomer to Washington, D.C., in HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Sen. Rubio.

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At a church near Eureka Garden, the politicians sat down with Jacksonville City Councilmen and other local stakeholders, as Secretary Carson discussed his plans for reform.

Before doing that, he lauded local officials for demonstrating the “leadership” that has brought the issues at Eureka into the “spotlight.”

Carson described a holistic vision of reform, one which went beyond subsidized housing.

The Secretary advocated for community clinics, “so the Emergency Room doesn’t become the primary care vehicle.”

He also advocated the importance of education, making the case for vouchers, and for more changes to the Section 8 model.

Among those proposals: a “housing savings account,” which would allow residents to save a bit of money every month, either to defray the cost of repairs (“doors scratched up” and other such issues).

“If those things aren’t happening,” Carson said, money “starts to accumulate,” and after a number of years, there may be sufficient money for a down payment on a house.

Carson, after musing on problems with America’s multi-party system, and people outside the country watching to see if they should “destroy [Americans] or wait for them to destroy themselves, noted that there’s “a lot of hysteria about people going to be thrown out onto the street.”

Carson says that won’t happen; however, America’s ponderous national debt requires a focus on using money efficiently and effectively, with an eye toward getting the greatest “bang for the buck.”

Part of that strategy: public-private partnerships, with “federal money leveraged with the private sector.”

President Donald Trump wants a $1T investment in infrastructure; much of that, Carson said, will go to housing.

Carson also wants “vision centers” near HUD complexes, which will be “places where young people can learn about careers.”

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Rep. Lawson told us about how he made the visit happen, writing Secretary Carson in February.

“I told him he really needed to come to Eureka Garden,” Lawson said.

Lawson sees the changes at Eureka — which look to be complete in the next couple of years, pending the transfer of the property — as a model for the rest of the country, potentially.

While Rep. Lawson isn’t completely sold on concepts like housing savings accounts, saying they might have more utility for younger people rather than older residents, he appreciates Sec. Carson’s interest, and anticipates a strong working relationship while both are in Washington.

2 Comments

  1. Here in North Idaho the management companies seem to think it’s there very own profitable playground to manage these units with there investors with Section 8 people They do no repair work to the projects The North Idaho real estate Association has over inflated the prices of the units Units that do not meet any codes of Idaho or H UDs Section 8 codes It seems as though the inspectors with Idaho Housing and Finance don’t know the codes of Section 8 housing are maybe getting kickbacks It seem that they don’t want to leave the office or maybe they just don’t know what to look for That’s what makes it the playground for the investors and they are the ones that seems to be running the cities Units that should rent between $650 and $750 are going for $1000 and $1200 Management companies seem to look for single mothers with at least three children it seems that that’s where they make the most profit Federal government and State government pay for everything for these women Rent, Electric, Water, Food ,Healthcare the children a lot of the times or left in the care of a mother that’s addicted to drugs Doing them and selling them in front of the children I believe in some of the cases that the children are being used twice by the mother and the father to receive Section 8 housing I believe that half of the time the people that are living there are not even the ones that are supposed to be living there In many cases there are 10 to 11 people living there and none of them work and they’re all capable of working In many of the complexes there seems to be a high use of drugs in these complexes Were there’s drugs there’s guns and crime and thats a problem which puts our law enforcement officers at a risk danger The Federal department of Housing and Urban Development spins 50 trillion dollars a year to put our officers at danger of being shot I would say that that department definitely needs to be look into and restructured It also seems like the Senators and Congressmen like to invest in these types of projects to get their share of the fifty trillion dollars which they make the rules to fit their needs So don’t cry when are Law Enforcement Officers gets shot and killed just look at yourselves your the problem Please Mr. Ben Carson take this to our president Mr. Donald Trump and let him read it and ask him for help to fix this big problem for all the children and elderly that cannot help themselves for all the law enforcement officers that are being shot in these drug-infested apartments complexes that are being miss managed by the Management Companies that are taking advantage of the Section 8 program There are people out there that want to use the program the proper way but they cannot get that chance because someone that’s on drugs is taking their spot There vouchers and their children should be taken away from them and maybe we could trade them for the people of Africa that are starving that would love to have an opportunity for a better life here in America It’s funny here in America we take care of the people that are no good and have no interest in doing anything but taking advantage of the government and the use of drugs an the people that have worked hard all their lives to pay for these people we do nothing for and give them no help That’s all backwards to me So please Mr. Carson please take the people off the program that are taking advantage of it and help the people that do need the help I’m sure all the hard-working people of America wouldn’t mind helping the people that really need the help I’mBut we’re really tired of paying for the low life losers that are taking advantage of the system thank you sir JDS

    1. I am a Property Manager and I agree with you, except for the fact that no matter how much rent HUD pays for a unit it is not enough. Some families are great, however, a lot of the families trash and do not clean the units. Numerous $$$ have to be spent to repair damages and keep the units in a decent condition so they pass inspection or else HUD will no longer pay the rent, even though the Tenant created the damages. Owners actually have to spend more money with Section 8 tenants. HUD should throw the bad families off the program but they do not want to get involved. They just move them somewhere else where they will damage another unit with no consequences.

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