Jun 06 2016
Rubio: “I hope the Justice Department will look into these people, because they’re taking federal funds and they’re certainly not investing it and providing a safe and sanitary environment for the residents that they’re responsible for.”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today visited the Windsor Cove federal housing complex in Orlando, Florida, to tour the property and speak with residents to learn more about their living conditions. Windsor Cove is owned by the Global Ministries Foundation (GMF), the same nonprofit that owns Eureka Garden Apartments in Jacksonville, Florida.
“[W]hat we learned today is not just that this place should not even be receiving federal funds, or that this company shouldn’t be, but that if you complain about it, they threaten you,” Rubio said. “Tenants here do not want to be on camera because they will be retaliated against. So I look forward to working with Senator Nelson to go back and work with HUD to get this fixed not just here, but anywhere where Global Ministries, or for that matter, any slumlords, are doing this to people.
“Again, I can’t emphasize enough – I’ll say it again, Global Ministries are slumlords,” Rubio continued. “Every project that I know that they are involved in, I encourage you to look it up online, they have these issues in Tennessee, they have these issues in Jacksonville, they have these issues here. They should not be in the business of doing this and I honestly believe that.”
- After calling attention to deplorable living conditions found at the federally funded housing complex in Jacksonville, Eureka Garden, Rubio found that multiple properties owned by GMF have similar problems. In a Senate floor speech last week, Rubio called attention to Windsor Cove in Orlando. He said, “In Orlando, at the Windsor Cove apartments owned by Global Ministries Foundation, reporters saw holes in the wall where roaches and rodents came into the apartment. The same woman has a gap between her bathtub and the wall that lets water leak into the apartment below.”
- The Senate recently passed a bill (HR 2577) which includes three of Rubio’s amendments to improve HUD’s oversight of these housing projects.
- Last week, Rubio urged the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of the Treasury to open an investigation into GMF.
A partial transcript of the media avail is available below:
Senator Marco Rubio: “I became aware of Global Ministries back in October of last year. They are a 501(c)(3), supposedly a faith-based organization, that’s gotten into the affordable housing business.
“They have a unit in Jacksonville, a place called Eureka Garden, and it is a complete and total disaster. They put no money into maintaining it and I saw it myself a few weeks ago. As soon as we did that, we started getting reports from all over the state of different units and this was one of the places that we had a report from.
“When we looked in further to Eureka and Global Ministries, we found that this is what they do all over the country. They have complaints in Tennessee, Indianapolis and everywhere. We have yet to find a place where they responsibly manage the federal money they are receiving.
“We just saw a unit where there is standing water, and it’s not the tenant, it is the leaking air conditioner that leaks from the roof. You’ve got living conditions that are unsanitary and unsafe. There are standing pools of water inside of their homes and the saddest part, and I think the most outrageous part, is Global Ministries gets millions of dollars a year, and part of that is money to maintain these facilities.
“What happens when you get money from the federal government and you’re not spending it in maintenance? You’re pocketing it. The Reverend Hamlet, who is the gentleman that owns this company, pays half a million dollars a year- half a million dollars a year. He also spends about $250,000 dollars a year on assorted relatives who are also employees.
“And what we learned today is not just that this place should not even be receiving federal funds, or that this company shouldn’t be, but that if you complain about it, they threaten you. Tenants here do not want to be on camera because they will be retaliated against. So I look forward to working with Senator Nelson to go back and work with HUD to get this fixed not just here, but anywhere where Global Ministries, or for that matter, any slumlords, are doing this to people.”
Rubio: “One of the first smells when you enter the unit was bleach, and the reason is she pours bleach on the floors through the cracks every day because if not, vegetation was growing. She had mushrooms or some sort of fungi growing through the cracks into the bedroom where her son was sleeping and lived.
“Again, I can’t emphasize enough – I’ll say it again, Global Ministries are slumlords. Every project that I know that they are involved in, I encourage you to look it up online, they have these issues in Tennessee, they have these issues in Jacksonville, they have these issues here. They should not be in the business of doing this and I honestly believe that. I speak for myself, and I’ll let Senator Nelson speak for himself, but I believe that.
“I hope the Justice Department will look into these people, because they’re taking federal funds and they’re certainly not investing it and providing a safe and sanitary environment for the residents that they’re responsible for.”
Rubio: “On the amendments, one of the things we wanted to do is shorten the timeframe for compliance so that they only have 15 days instead of 45 or 90 days to comply. The second is, I met with Secretary Castro and he’s not at fault by the way because he inherited this issue, their inspection process is outdated. This place passed inspection. This is a certified place that has passed HUD inspection, so we want to give them more tools to be able to do that. His hands are tied because he can take the contract away from Global Ministries, but then all these folks have nowhere to go. It’s kind of a catch-22, so we’ve got to work through that part of it to create more options. I’ve brainstorm some ideas, maybe requiring HUD operators to have a bond that we can collect to use to pay for maintenance and require maintenance. I don’t know, we’ve got to think through that a little bit more, but right now HUD doesn’t have a lot of options other than the fact that we’ve got to shame these people.
“And let me add one more point. They have no money to fix this woman’s apartment, but they have money to hire Holland & Knight, one of the most expensive law firms and well-respected in America to lobby for them, to be PR. And the only reason why they’re not here today like they did in Jacksonville, putting on a show, is because they didn’t know we were coming.
“When I went to Jacksonville, they put up banners, they had construction crews that showed up that morning and then never came back to make it look like they were working on something.”
Rubio: “When you look at the HUD inspection sheet they passed, the building you investigated passed inspection according to HUD’s criteria. The Secretary knows they have a problem, he knows they need to change it, and that they need help from us. That’s why one of the amendments will allow him to look at what those changes need to be.
“But it’s also an ongoing issue. As I’ve said, I think there’s more of these out there. We’ve only started to hear about them now. Unfortunately, it’s taken this long to get more attention paid to these units and to these sorts of problems, but we’re on it now and I can just tell you that we’re going to continue to work with HUD to improve their internal mechanisms so that they can more quickly respond.
“But the biggest thing we can do is keep these bad actors out of the business of housing because this isn’t an isolated instance; every building that I know of that they administer has these kinds of problems or worse.