By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
As the saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Could the Public-Private Partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville (HabiJax), the Housing Authority, and the City of Jacksonville, Florida, be an example of good intentions gone wrong?
Back in 2000, HabiJax built 85 homes for households in need, on land purchased from the city for $1. The community was created as an affordable housing initiative, and is governed by the Fairway Oaks homeowners association.
Within 5 years of original construction, many of the homes began to show signs of damage as they slowly began to sink into the ground. Cracked foundation slabs. Doors off kilter and unable to close completely. Shifting soils. HabiJax installed some retention walls in 2006, but that has not solved the problems of homes sinking into the shifting soil.
Recently, Fairway Oaks HOA hired engineers and worked with city inspectors to dig into the problem, literally. But when they started digging into the soil, just beneath the surface they found heaps of trash and debris.
Legal Aid is assisting the homeowners, and they contend that Fairway Oaks has been constructed on a former landfill. They say the city knew the land has a long history of instability, and that the landfill closed in 1969 was unlined. That poses health risks for residents of Fairway Oaks, with the possibility of methane gases and other contaminants leaking into homes.
The city blames the settling of homes on improper maintenance.
Although an inspector claims the homes can be repaired, they will require constant monitoring and expensive future maintenance. But the homes are no longer under warranty, and homeowners have very limited financial resources.
So much for “affordable housing,” right? Is this how PPPs “help” the less fortunate to obtain safe, decent homes?
This News4Jax video provides more details, and a closer look at homes in Fairway Oaks HOA.
Report poses health concerns for Northside HabiJax homeowners
Report suggests HabiJax homes in Fairway Oaks built near unlined landfill