jacksonville, florida – Residents of the Grand Park Apartment Complex need your help. They said they had endured poor living conditions without repairs for years.
“We have to live with cockroaches, rats, holes in walls and leaks,” said resident April Sizemore, mum of two.
News4JAX I-TEAM has discovered through a public record request that the City of Jacksonville is investigating dozens of complaints about the Cascade Apartments on Kings Road. Formerly known as Kings Ridge Apartments.
Apartments are part of the federal government’s HUD program and are considered affordable housing.
It didn’t take long for us to notice the problems outside the Cascade Apartments: mold, crumbling stairs, and boarded-up units.
Things get even worse when you enter Sizemore’s apartment. Her kitchen counter is sunken over a rusty water heater.
“It’s black mold,” she said, pointing to the accumulated growth. She has a fly trap above the stove to catch flies and a sticky trap for cockroaches under the cupboard. I-TEAM said she counted 5 cockroaches in one trap.
She said the problem started two years ago and is still ongoing. Big, moist bubbles hang from the ceiling of her popcorn. The walls are unpainted and patched together. Another area was left open until she used a plastic bag and tape to cover it.
Sizemore has two children, ages 13 and 14. Her son needs special assistance.
“This is my baby. It has a narrowed airway,” she said, pointing to her son sitting in a box outside the front door.
She pays $800 a month plus utilities. This swallows up nearly everything she gets from her Social Security. She is unable to work due to her health problems and lives on $912. She said she can’t afford a car and other apartments are not in her price range.
“That mold by itself does nothing for our lungs. Every apartment here has it,” she said. “I don’t have Section 8. I don’t have hoods, I don’t have social housing. Did I put my application in? Yes I am. Am I still on the waiting list? Yes I am.
Some other residents also asked us for help.
Eric Jackson said a unit shared by a family of four had not had central air conditioning installed for years. He showed us the damaged unit outside. It looks like the wire was loose and damaged on the outside.
Jackson purchased two small window units and installed them himself. He said he is working but still can’t make ends meet to get his family into a better home.
“It cost about $800 for two,” he said. “It’s crazy. They said they would fix it, fix it, fix it, but nobody fixed it.”
I-TEAM pulled records from the city of Jacksonville, and legal inspectors sent us files containing dozens of compliance issues for 2022 and 2023. Investigators warned and fined property managers for violations such as unsanitary conditions, electrical problems and rodents.
On Monday afternoon, management approached us as we were filming this article and told us to leave. It’s important to note that we were in an urban area, which is protected by the First Amendment. And state law dictates that if a resident invites us, we can enter the apartment. In another call, the Jacksonville Sheriff inside the complex confirmed that the road was on public property. After being asked to leave, we left the common areas of the complex.
“Please don’t record us, please get off our property,” said a woman who claimed to be the property manager. She declined I-TEAM’s requests for interviews and responses to allegations.
“I am the property manager and I am asking you to leave our property,” she said.
Lafayette Management Group, which has offices in Jacksonville and Orlando, oversees the property. The complex is owned by Cascade Residential Company in Hollywood, Florida, according to Florida business records. I left a message for your comment.
Another resident, Andre Huth, said: “Everyone has problems, but no one complains.”
He said mold in apartments caused respiratory and heart problems. He filed a complaint with the city and federal government.
Other residents, he said, fear they will be evicted because they have nowhere else to go.
At least one report from code inspectors mentions this concern. Inspectors wrote that residents had reported the problem but asked to drop their complaints for fear of retaliation from management.
Senator Marco Rubio provided a statement to News4JAX on Tuesday.
My staff recently visited the Cascade Apartments in Jacksonville. They found the situation unpleasant and deplorable. These residents should be valued more. Floridians have the right to live in safe, clean homes without worrying about crumbling walls, mold, pests, or other health hazards. I urge Cascade management to address these issues immediately and ensure that all residents can live in habitable conditions.
Senator Marco Rubio
A HUD spokesperson and the Senate office said they were investigating our questions about the status of the multi-family housing complex.
WJXT News4JAX Copyright 2023 – All rights reserved.
https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2023/07/24/rats-roaches-mold-grand-park-apartment-residents-complain-about-ongoing-issues-horrid-living-conditions/ Grand Park apartment residents complain about ongoing problems and poor living conditions