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HUD Secretary Ben Carson takes listening tour to public housing in Jacksonville

Visits public housing facility with living conditions once described as "deplorable"

Ben Carson with flag

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is making the next stop in his listening tour on Tuesday, as he visits a public housing facility in Jacksonville, Florida that was recently the target of the state’s senators.

According to information from HUD, Carson will visit Eureka Gardens on Tuesday. Eureka Gardens is one of several federally subsidized housing developments in Florida that subject residents to “deplorable” living conditions, according to Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Last year, Rubio and Nelson introduced a bill in the Senate that would “hold slumlords of low-income public housing accountable for poor conditions.”

The bill, called the “Housing Accountability Act of 2016,” required HUD to survey tenants living in subsidized housing twice a year about property conditions and management performance, and creates new penalties for property owners who “repeatedly fail the tenant surveys.”

The bill stalled out in Congress, but the Rubio and Nelson introduced the bill again this year.

Last year, the Florida senators said that the bill is in response to the “deplorable” living conditions discovered in some public housing developments in Florida, including Eureka Gardens, Windsor Cove Apartments in Orlando, and Stonybrook Apartments in Riviera Beach.

At the time, Nelson and Rubio said that both senators visited a number of those developments and saw “unsafe and unhealthy living conditions.”

Here's how local media described the living conditions in Eureka Gardens, from News4Jax:

Last week, News4Jax exposed patchwork repairs at Eureka Gardens, with kitchen holes covered, mold-remediation work partially complete and walls covered with plastic in an apartment where a family with three children live.

HUD's letter said the inspector's recent visit documented electrical hazards, health and safety deficiencies, holes covered with painted duct work and serious erosion.

And here's a recent update from Jacksonville.com on how conditions at Eureka Gardens are not improving.

According to HUD, Carson will be visiting Eureka Gardens on Tuesday, accompanied by Rubio.

The visit to Jacksonville will be third stop on Carson’s listening tour. Previously, Carson spent time in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and in Carson’s hometown of Detroit.

HousingWire attended two of Carson’s public events in Dallas. For a look at each of those events, click here and here.

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