Florida’s two U.S. senators–Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio–are pushing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on an apartment complex in Fort Myers.
On Thursday, Nelson and Rubio wrote U.S. HUD Sec. Ben Carson, asking him to “make available the latest reports from the failed Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) inspection of Jones Walker Apartments in Fort Myers. “They also called on Carson “to provide future REAC inspection reports to relevant congressional delegations and local officials as soon as a failed inspection occurs and conduct comprehensive tenant surveys.” After hearing from tenants about poor living conditions, Nelson and Rubio learned that the complex failed its REAC inspection.
“We write to express serious concerns for residents of Jones Walker Apartments, located in Fort Myers, Florida. This property, owned and managed by Treetop Development, receives U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidies. In recent routine HUD Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) reviews, Jones Walker Apartments received a score of 44 out of a possible 100,” the senators wrote. “We are rightfully concerned for the tenants of the Jones Walker property and want to ensure they are living in safe and sanitary conditions. It is our understanding that HUD is unable to share the results from the failed REAC inspections as Treetop Developers is in an appeals process.
“However, it is critical that we exercise our congressional oversight duty to ensure that federal tax dollars are being used as intended, and the properties are not being neglected at the taxpayer and tenants’ expense,” Nelson and Rubio added. “Thus, we respectfully request that you make available the latest reports stemming from this inspection as well as provide future REAC inspection reports to relevant congressional delegations and local officials as soon as a failed inspection occurs. This much needed transparency would allow us to better service tenants and constituents impacted by these substandard conditions. Finally, it is imperative that HUD establish a synchronized tenant survey to allow tenants to come forward, without fear of retribution from the owner or manager on site.
“Families who live in HUD-assisted properties and are possibly subject to property neglect deserve proper federal oversight and necessary protection. In an era of crowded news cycles, low-income tenant’s concerns can be unheard or muted. As elected officials, we play an instrumental and necessary role as a voice for our constituents when their concerns go unanswered. We look forward to working with you on this important matter,” they wrote in conclusion.