Ron DeSantis: Florida Housing Taking Action in Response to Jacksonville’s Hilltop Village’s Condition

    At the end of last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) is taking action against the companies associated with Hilltop Village, a rental housing development located in Jacksonville, in response to a recent unsatisfactory site inspection involving a rodent infestation at the property.

    Florida Housing is placing conditions on the closings of future transactions involving the property’s management company, Cambridge Management, Inc. The property developer Southport Development Services, Inc. has been advised that all outstanding noncompliance issues identified by monitors must be cured by their upcoming transaction closings and the rodent infestation at Hilltop Village must be resolved prior to Cambridge Management, Inc. leasing any units in their future developments. The recent unsatisfactory inspection was the latest in a series of reports of poor management and inspections ordered over several months by Florida Housing and other state, local and federal agencies.

    Since April, state, local and federal officials have repeatedly asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to investigate conditions at Hilltop Village Apartments and to take action to address the living conditions. Most recently, on September 13, HUD issued a letter in response to these calls from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., saying in part, “The Owner has been cooperative,” and “HUD will continue to monitor the physical condition and work the Owner and Agent to develop a plan that will provide increased maintenance and management oversight.” In light of the clear lack of interest by the federal government to take action to rectify the situation, the state is using its authority to stand up for the residents of Hilltop Village.

    “Despite recent statements by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that ‘the management agent has continued to work with the most critically affected tenants,’ in reality the persistent and deplorable conditions that dozens of Hilltop residents have endured is simply unacceptable,” said DeSantis. “Our patience has run out for this developer and their management company’s failed stewardship of safe, decent and affordable housing for Floridians.”

    “As a result of HUD’s persistent lack of oversight, tenants at Hilltop Village Apartments are still living in abhorrent conditions,” said Rubio. “Addressing constituent housing takes multiple levels, and I am thankful that Governor DeSantis is a partner in these efforts. I am committed to continuing to work together to ensure that the families at Hilltop Village Apartments are afforded the safe and decent living conditions that they deserve.”

    “Florida Housing needs complete resolution of the health and safety concerns at the Hilltop Property. We believe the conditions placed on the new Southport Developments moving forward will bring accountability to the management company,” said Trey Price, the executive director for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

    “The Department has inspected and warned this property numerous times over the past year regarding unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and we are prepared and committed to support further enforcement action where needed to ensure the safety of this property and the wellbeing of its residents,” said Sec. Julie Brown of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

    Positive recommendations for Florida Housing funding are conditioned upon satisfactory resolution of any outstanding past due and/or noncompliance items prior to loan closing and/or the issuance of a Low Income Housing Tax Credit Allocation. Southport Development Services, Inc. has been advised that all outstanding noncompliance issues identified by monitors must be cured by their upcoming transaction closings and the rodent infestation at Hilltop Village must be resolved prior to Cambridge Management, Inc. leasing any units in their future developments. If unresolved prior to leasing, Florida Housing will require replacement of Cambridge Management, Inc. with an alternate property management company, pursuant to requirements of 67-53, F.A.C., that does not share any common Principals, executive directors, board members, officers, guarantors or employees of Southport Development Services, Inc. or Cambridge Management, Inc.

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