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May 12, 2016 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today raised concerns about U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing at Eureka Garden Apartments in Jacksonville, Florida, which he will be touring tomorrow. His visit comes after numerous disturbing reports of dangerous and unacceptable living conditions.

“Tomorrow I’m going to be visiting the Eureka Garden Apartments in Jacksonville, Florida, which is a section 8 apartment complex that is supposed to provide affordable and safe living conditions for low income members of the Jacksonville community. But it doesn’t. Instead, its tenants have for years been subjected to dangerous, often downright disgusting living conditions,” said Rubio during a Senate floor speech.

“I and my staff have been working on this since it first came to light last fall. But there’s been a frustrating, disturbing lack of progress from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the owners of the complex. So, frankly, I’ve had enough. I’m heading down there tomorrow to see what we have to do and who we need to put pressure on to get things moving,” Rubio continued.

“I’m going down there tomorrow to find out how we can put an end to this problem once and for all. The residents of Eureka Gardens cannot be forced to suffer under mismanagement and apathy any longer. Children cannot continue to be put at risk due to gas leaks and other hazardous conditions. HUD cannot be allowed to rubber stamp approval of failing housing complexes only to further slum-like conditions for the most vulnerable tenants. I will continue to look for solutions that help make sure that what’s happened at Eureka Gardens is fixed, and isn’t repeated elsewhere. If we determine that Congressional action is necessary, then I am prepared to take it,” he concluded.

The full transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below. A video is available here and a broadcast quality video available for download is available here.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C.
May 12, 2016
https://youtu.be/wQEyUCIMGGI

Senator Marco Rubio: “Tomorrow I’m going to be visiting the Eureka Garden Apartments in Jacksonville, Florida, which is a section 8 apartment complex that is supposed to provide affordable and safe living conditions for low income members of the Jacksonville community. But it doesn’t.

“Instead, its tenants have for years been subjected to dangerous, often downright disgusting living conditions.

“They’ve raised their concerns repeatedly with the managers of the facility and with local officials, only to be met for the most part with bureaucratic indifference.

“I and my staff have been working on this since it first came to light last fall. But there’s been a frustrating, disturbing lack of progress from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the owners of the complex.

“So, frankly, I’ve had enough. I’m heading down there tomorrow to see what we have to do and who we need to put pressure on to get things moving.

“I’ll be touring the facility and meeting with Tracy Grant, who’s the President of the Tenant’s Association; I’ll be joined by Councilman Garrett Dennis, Jacksonville Mayor Len Curry, and Pastor Mark Griffin of Wayman Ministries, who will be meeting with residents.

“I intend to commend the residents tomorrow for how united and resilient they have been throughout this ordeal, even while the federal government has failed them.

“The Department of Housing and Urban Development has for years certified this facility, a facility that has put hundreds of families at risk.

“When HUD inspected the property last summer, they passed the complex with a score of 85 out of 100.

“Less than a month later, residents were complaining about how bad their living conditions were.

“When my staff visited the complex, it was nearly un-livable.

“They saw crumbling stairs. They saw black mold. They saw exposed electrical wiring that had been covered up by a trash bag. They smelled the natural gas that would soon hospitalize residents just days later.

“This was, and is, unacceptable. My office, along with Mayor Curry, the city council, and the tenant’s association, pushed for months to have improvements and repairs done to this complex.

“In February, HUD finally had a date by which all repairs must be completed. When they came back to re-inspect Eureka Gardens, it passed the inspection and they eventually renewed their contract with the property’s owner.

“But the residents continued to say what they have said all along – HUD’s inspections aren’t working.

“Just recently, HUD revealed that Eureka Gardens passed with a score of 62. The passing score is a 60.

“However, a senior HUD official admitted that HUD officials do not believe the property would currently pass another inspection.

“So HUD essentially admitted that it certified a failing facility.

Something is clearly wrong with their inspection process, and Floridians are being hurt because of it.

“I’m going down there tomorrow to find out how we can put an end to this problem once and for all.

“The residents of Eureka Gardens cannot be forced to suffer under mismanagement and apathy any longer.

“Children cannot continue to be put at risk due to gas leaks and other hazardous conditions.

“HUD cannot be allowed to rubber stamp approval of failing housing complexes only to further slum-like conditions for the most vulnerable tenants.

“I will continue to look for solutions that help make sure that what’s happened at Eureka Gardens is fixed, and isn’t repeated elsewhere. If we determine that Congressional action is necessary, then I am prepared to take it.

“The residents of Eureka Gardens deserve safe living conditions, and we’re going to make sure that’s exactly what they get.”