Eureka Garden chief: “I am not a slumlord”


A chastened Tennessee pastor and nonprofit CEO has promised to make a laundry list of fixes at a troubled Jacksonville Section 8 housing complex after media reports uncovered deplorable conditions at the city’s notorious Westside Eureka Garden complex.

“I am not a slumlord,” said the Rev. Richard Hamlet during an appearance on WJCT’s First Coast Connect.

Hamlet, a Baptist minister, is the head of Global Ministries Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the apartment complex.

Eureka has long been known for high crime and unsafe living conditions. Recent inspections found mold, pest infestations, and other code violations. Residents have had to be treated at local hospitals for gas poisoning. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, upon touring Eureka Garden recently at the insistence of local activist Denise Hunt, called conditions at the community “heartbreaking.”

Global Ministries has come under fire for its management of other HUD properties in Memphis and Atlanta as well.

Hamlet, who met Monday with local and federal officials at Jacksonville’s City Hall, says he’s committed to improving the situation on the ground for the local tenants.

“These properties are very management-intensive. We have to build a better relationship between our management team and our residents. We bought properties that have been historically troubled, and we came in to generate a sustainable business model with the HUD federal subsidy, and a plan of action to empower the residents.”

Records show Hamlet earned $485,000 in 2013 running Global Ministries Foundation.  He took issue with callers’ criticisms that his high salary and spotty management record of HUD properties does not comport well with a man of faith.

“We should not be prejudiced against because we are faith-based. The residents are our priority, and we want them to have safe, decent housing.”

Melissa Ross

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at [email protected].


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