Senator Rubio understands the importance of affordable housing
Senator Rubio has a long history of fighting to keep low-income housing tenants safe and hold slumlords accountable.
In 2016, Rubio raised concerns about Eureka Garden Apartments, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) complex in Jacksonville. Visiting the apartment complex to investigate reports of mismanagement, he found hazardous and inhumane living conditions. Rubio was outraged and began to push for legislative and managerial changes.
Rubio also publicly called out Global Ministries Foundation (GMF)
The Senate went on to pass three of his amendments to improve HUD’s oversight of housing projects. Rubio also publicly called out Global Ministries Foundation (GMF), which owned Eureka Garden Apartments and several other properties in Florida at the time. In November 2018, Rubio’s efforts to cancel GMF’s contract with HUD came to fruition when the Eureka Garden complex was sold to Millennia Housing Development.
HUD Inspection Process and Enforcement Reform Act
After witnessing deplorable conditions and deficient inspections, Rubio introduced the HUD Inspection Process and Enforcement Reform Act, which would improve the federal housing inspection process and hold slumlords accountable. He also introduced the Housing Accountability Act, which would require tenants of Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance properties to be included in semi-annual surveys that assess a property’s physical condition.
“Not only was his mind in it — but his heart was also in it”
Rubio also sought to improve conditions at the Stonybrook apartment complex in Riviera Beach and the Windsor Cove federal housing complex in Orlando. “Not only was his mind in it — but his heart was also in it,” Pastor Mark Griffin told the Washington Examiner.
Rubio was quick to act after his staff found poor conditions at Glorieta Gardens Apartments in Opa-locka. He called for the HUD secretary and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner to conduct an investigation and potentially suspend benefits to the owners of the apartments.
Following disturbing reports from tenants at Jones Walker Apartments in Fort Myers, Rubio discovered the property had failed its procedural Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) inspection. Rubio requested that the HUD Secretary take corrective action immediately.
Rubio and his Senate colleagues also introduced the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act, which would provide recommendations to Congress on how to effectively increase affordable housing options.
In addition, Rubio introduced the Home Advantage for American Families Act. This legislation seeks to reduce excess foreign investment in the urban real estate market, which increases home prices and outbids working Americans on home purchases. It would simultaneously allow for the construction of new, single-family homes by increasing federal investment in the low-income housing tax credit.
In April 2021, Rubio and his team responded to reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the Eastside Gardens Apartments and Eastside Terrace Apartments in Jacksonville, both federally contracted under the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program. Rubio wrote to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge requesting immediate action to remedy the unconscionable state of the properties. Rubio’s letter raised the further concern that other properties may be in similar conditions throughout Florida and called for the secretary to resume affordable housing inspections of HUD-assisted properties, which were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, Rubio blasted the Eastside property owner, Andrew Podray, after receiving updated inspection scores for the properties. He urged HUD to debar Mr. Podray from contracts under all federal housing programs.
In May 2021, reports surfaced of unacceptable conditions at another Jacksonville property, the Hilltop Village Apartments, which is also federally contracted under the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program. Rubio contacted HUD Secretary Fudge to request immediate action to remedy a chronic rodent infestation and ensure sanitary and safe living conditions for constituents living at the apartment complex. In June 2021, Rubio took aim at the management company responsible for Hilltop Village Apartments, Cambridge Management, Inc., after discovering that the company was responsible for seven other properties in the state with failing REAC scores. In August 2021, Rubio requested that the Hilltop tenants be relocated to safe and sanitary housing.
While working to improve conditions at Jacksonville properties, Rubio directed HUD’s attention to 29 properties in Florida that participate in the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program with failing REAC scores. Rubio directed HUD to resume inspections of these properties, since many of them had not been inspected for several years, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July 2021, Rubio introduced the HUD Inspection and Capital Improvement Act to require that HUD health and sanitation inspections take place according to a reasonable federal timeline and that HUD take enforcement action on failing properties to protect tenants. Rubio’s bill would also increase HUD’s authority to hold agency staff accountable for misconduct.
In September 2021, Rubio introduced the Keep Children and Families Safe From Lead Hazards Act to direct HUD to identify and remediate risk exposure to lead hazards, including lead wall paint and lead drinking water service lines, in Section 8 housing programs.