“We are committed to a continuous and prompt engagement” at Hilltop Village Apartments to ensure the standards

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida – The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said in a statement that its No.1 priority is the safety and well-being of people living in HUD-assisted properties.

The statement comes a day after the Duval County School Board discussed a resolution that asks the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Stop issuing Section 8 housing vouchers for Hilltop Village apartments until the resort resolves a rodent problem. It states that the board has an obligation to ensure that children attending district schools are safe and that the documented living conditions in the complex do not allow this.

A statement from the agency, which reviewed the resolution, reads in part (full statement at end of article):

“HUD’s number one priority is the safety and well-being of those who live in HUD-assisted properties. When we identify property conditions that do not honor this commitment, such as previous and recent cases with Hilltop Village, HUD takes swift and aggressive action to ensure that the owner and property management immediately address these intolerable conditions. Under the strict direction of HUD and local government officials, Hilltop owners have since carried out a 100% unit inspection, moved tenants from affected units, and started work on full pest eradication. New rodent reports require immediate action and we are committed to an ongoing and prompt engagement at Hilltop to ensure it meets HUD standards and that residents enjoy quality housing that everyone should appreciate. wait.

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The Duval County School Board said in its Tuesday meeting that investigations by I-TEAM had motivated them to demand that the complex clean up its act.

“We are concerned and hope that we can take steps to ensure that students have a safe, decent and hygienic place to live,” school board member Warren Jones said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Congressman Al Lawson, who represents the neighborhood in which the government-subsidized apartment community is located, also released a statement that reads:

“I firmly believe that everyone, especially our children, should have access to clean and safe housing. The poor living conditions at Hilltop hamper the development of our children and seriously affect their well-being. These students need every opportunity available to them to grow and succeed, regardless of their zip code. I introduced the HUD Inspection Act in May to address this issue. I stand with the residents and our local leaders in the fight against substandard management at Hilltop Village. We must provide appropriate support to these children and their families when needed. “

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The News4Jax I-TEAM team has largely covered the rodent infestation, drawing the attention of US Senator Marco Rubio, who is now calling for more federal inspections.

Code enforcement inspectors returned to Hilltop Village Apartments late last month and found 26 violations, 14 of which document a rodent infestation.

Here is the full statement from HUD:

“HUD’s number one priority is the safety and well-being of those who live in HUD-assisted properties. When we identify property conditions that do not honor this commitment, such as previous and recent cases with Hilltop Village, HUD takes swift and aggressive action to ensure that the owner and property management immediately address these intolerable conditions. Under the strict direction of HUD and local government officials, Hilltop owners have since carried out a 100% unit inspection, moved tenants from affected units, and started work on full pest eradication. New rodent reports require immediate action and we are committed to an ongoing and prompt engagement at Hilltop to ensure it meets HUD standards and residents have the quality housing that everyone should expect. .

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“In addition, HUD regularly reviews the terms of its other Florida-funded portfolio through regular monitoring by HUD’s asset managers and contract administrators. We have resumed our physical inspections of all distressed properties in Florida that had previously been suspended due to the global pandemic. In addition, HUD takes severe enforcement action against any owner acting in bad faith and may impose more severe actions, including requiring a change of management, civil suits to recover substantial monetary penalties and / or foreclosure and remedies. against debts when HUD holds the debt. To be clear, HUD will hold all homeowners accountable for the commitments they have made.

“We know we cannot do this job alone, so we welcome a partnership with all stakeholders, including residents, local, state and federal elected officials. Our staff organized recurring Congressional briefings for state and federal government delegations and contacted the governor’s office to join us in this work. As we all know, there is a persistent shortage of affordable housing in Florida. HUD will continue to invest in development and preservation to rebuild this vital building stock and make it accessible to all Floridians. We will continue to do our utmost to take comprehensive action to improve the quality of life for residents of HUD-assisted properties. “

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