ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
88°
Mostly Sunny
H 100° L 79°
  • cloudy-day
    88°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Sunny. H 100° L 79°
  • clear-day
    94°
    Evening
    Mostly Sunny. H 100° L 79°
  • clear-day
    80°
    Morning
    Mostly Sunny. H 97° L 78°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
HUD hasn't inspected Jacksonville high-rise since seniors returned after massive fire
Close

HUD hasn't inspected Jacksonville high-rise since seniors returned after massive fire

HUD hasn't inspected Jacksonville high-rise since seniors returned after massive fire

HUD hasn't inspected Jacksonville high-rise since seniors returned after massive fire

An Action News Jax Investigation has revealed that the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development did not inspect a Jacksonville high-rise that caught fire after its 200 elderly tenants moved back in more than a year ago.

The Section 8 housing for seniors caught fire in December 2017, displacing the people who lived at Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments for two months.

“Some people are terrified of sleeping. They are traumatized because of the fire,” said tenant Jorge Prieto, who was displaced by the 2017 fire and moved back in last year.


TRENDING: 


It may have been more than five years since HUD inspected the property.

The last record Action News Jax has been able to find of a HUD inspection at Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments was more than five years ago, in February 2014.

It’s supposed to be inspected every three years.

Action News Jax asked HUD to confirm whether there have been any inspections at Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments since 2014; neither have responded to our questions.

STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories

Download WJAX Apps

Days after more than 200 people had to get out of bed and run for their lives in December 2017, Action News Jax reported that the HUD-assisted housing was overdue for federal inspection.

Back then, a HUD spokesperson told Action News Jax inspectors decided to postpone the inspection that was supposed to happen in 2017 because management planned to renovate the building.

Inspectors felt it would be more effective to inspect after renovation.

Tenants at Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments tell Action News Jax that renovation is still going on.

“The place is much better than before. Even the roach infestation that we had is no longer there,” Prieto said.

Action News Jax asked HUD why it did not inspect after tenants moved back in.

We haven’t gotten an answer yet.

Since tenants moved back in last year, six have filed complaints with HUD.

Half the complaints are about old air conditioning units malfunctioning.

The fire marshal’s investigation found the fire started in an A/C unit.

“I have a fire – an A/C fire. Air conditioner make fire. I cover it with my blanket,” a tenant frantically told 911 the night of the fire.

Action News Jax reported more than a year ago that tenants who moved back in were afraid of their malfunctioning A/C units.

“The air conditioner was just, like, it exploded. And so, I took off running … It was hissing like a pressure cooker going off,” a tenant said April 10, 2018.

That tenant of 19 years asked Action News Jax to conceal her identity because she fears retaliation from management. 

The three people who complained to HUD last year got new A/C units.

Cambridge Management told Action News Jax it’s replacing A/C units in each apartment as part of the renovation.

“All homes at Jacksonville Townhouse are being updated including all-new fixtures, new windows, cabinets, counters, appliances, flooring and air conditioning units. Management is keeping the appropriate HUD representatives up-to-date with the progress of the renovations,” said Cambridge Management spokesperson Katelynn DeSart Perez in an email.

Kirby Johnson, an attorney representing more than 100 tenants at Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments, said not all of the A/C units have been replaced yet.

Last month, HUD reached a $75,000 settlement with Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments’ owners and managers.

Action News Jax reported in December 2017 the building’s fire pump and sprinkler system were broken during the fire.

Before the fire, the fire marshal had ordered Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments management to start a “fire watch,” where an employee patrols 24/7 looking for signs of a fire.

The fire marshal’s investigation found not only was there no fire watch, a maintenance person said there were no overnight employees at all during the 3:30 a.m. fire.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • President Donald Trump denied Monday that he sexually assaulted Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll in the dressing room of an upscale New York City department store in the 1990s, telling The Hill that 'she's not my type.' 'I'll say it with great respect: No. 1, she's not my type,' Trump said, according to The Hill. 'No. 2, it never happened. It never happened, OK?' >> Read more trending news  In an excerpt published Friday in New York magazine from Carroll's upcoming book – 'What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal' – the long-time columnist said she was assaulted by Trump in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman in 1995 or 1996. Trump told The Hill that Carroll is 'totally lying.' 'I don't know anything about her,' he told the news site. 'I know nothing about this woman. I know nothing about her. She is – it's just a terrible thing that people can make statements like that.' Shortly after The Hill published Trump's comments, Carroll responded in an interview on CNN. 'I love that I'm not his type,' Carroll told the news network. She added that Trump's denial of her assault followed the same pattern seen after similar accusations have surfaced. 'He denies. He turns it around. He threatens and he attacks,' she told CNN. Trump has been accused of sexual assault by 15 other women since the launch of his presidential campaign in 2015, according to The New York Times. He has denied any wrongdoing, sometimes saying that the women at the center of the complaints weren't attractive enough to be assaulted or claiming he has never met the women. 'Believe me, she would not be my first choice,' Trump said to cheers at a 2016 campaign event after a woman accused him of groping her on an airplane, according to The Washington Post. 'You don't know – that would not be my first choice.' Carroll says in her upcoming book that Trump recognized her when they ran into each other at Bergdorf Goodman because she hosted a cable television show at the time based on her long-running advice column, 'Ask E. Jean.' She said he asked her to advise him in choosing a gift for a woman. Carroll said that after Trump rejected her suggestions that he buy a handbag or a hat, he asked her to model lingerie he was thinking about buying. She said she went along with him to a dressing room, thinking she could get Trump to try on the outfit. 'I'm spinning a comedy scene in my head,' Carroll told CNN on Monday. 'You see how funny that would be, to make him put that on?' She said things got violent a short time later. 'The minute he closed that door, I was banged up against the wall,' Carroll told CNN. 'I hit my head really hard: boom. … The thing is, it shocked me. For a moment I was stunned, right? And then he tried to kiss me.' She said he pulled down her tights and briefly penetrated her before she managed to fight him off and flee from the dressing room. 'It was against my will, and it hurt, and it was a fight,' she told CNN. She told the news network she would be willing to work with New York police to investigate her allegation, though attorneys have told her the statute of limitations has passed to bring charges against Trump. She told CNN she plans to continue speaking about the incident. 'It's the only way to change things,' she said. 'We have to hold him accountable, not only him but a lot of them – a lot of guys.
  • Phoenix man accused of starving 21-year-old daughter to death, police say   A Phoenix man who acted as caretaker for his disabled 21-year-old daughter has been charged in her death after authorities allege he allowed her to starve to death. Richard Comer, 46, is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder, vulnerable adult abuse and animal abuse following the death of his daughter, Vanessa Comer, last July, according to NBC News. The network reported that the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner recently ruled the young woman’s death a homicide.  >> Read more trending news The Arizona Republic reported that Phoenix police officials allege Comer brought his daughter to a hospital on July 7, 2018, suffering from severe malnutrition and dehydration. She died that same day. Vanessa Comer, who had an undisclosed serious medical condition, was completely dependent on her father for her care, the Republic said. Investigators believe he withheld care from her for at least three months before she died.  Two malnourished and dehydrated dogs were also found in the mobile home Richard Comer shared with his daughter, the newspaper reported.  Richard Comer was arrested Friday and charged in his daughter’s death. He is being held in the Maricopa County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond. 
  • The FDOT has announced that the clearing stages have started in northwest Jacksonville, to prepare for the upcoming construction. The construction on the Jacksonville National Cemetery access road will be adding a new 3.4 mile two-lane road connecting Lannie Road and Arnold Road, at the Ethel Road intersection.  Also included in this project are bike lanes on the new road, ponds for drainage, and a new bridge over Seaton Creek to improve transportation options for visitors.  This $12.8 million project is expected to be finished in the Fall of 2021 by Anderson Columbia Contractors, Inc. and ownership of the road will then be transferred to the City of Jacksonville.
  • The Jacksonville Transportation Authority says a driver who was fired following a deadly weekend incident in the Mayport Village area violated several policies.  WOKV first reported Monday the bus operator, who had been with JTA for 12 years, was fired for violating JTA Operator Work Rules.  JTA has provided more specific violations including that the driver failed to confirm the doors were closed before allowing the bus to move, as well as failure to be alert for any condition that may cause injury or damage.  The driver also failed to follow Standard Operating Procedure, and displayed conduct unbecoming a JTM Operator.  JSO is still investigating the circumstances surrounding Saturday’s incident that resulted in Jeanie Rozar’s death. Our news partner Action News Jax confirmed she died of injuries sustained after she became entangled in the bus and was hit by it.  JTA is not commenting on any specific details about the incident until JSO has completed its investigation.  JTA told Action News Jax that the model of bus involved in the incident is older and does not have sensors in the doors to alert the bus driver if something is stuck. JTA’s newer model buses do have those sensors.  A memorial was set up across from the bus stop where the incident happened. 
  • A Girl Scout was killed Monday and three other people were seriously injured when a tree fell on the group at a camp in southwest Indiana, WXIN reported. >> Read more trending news  The girl, whose name has not been released, was pinned under the tree along with another child and two adults at Camp Koch in Cannelton, according to WEVV. The Perry County Sheriff's Office said they received a call around 11:30 p.m. In a statement, the Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana said Camp Koch was closed after the incident. 'There is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our girls and volunteers,' the organization said in its statement. 'During this difficult time, the entire Girl Scout family mourns the loss of one of our girls, and we ask for privacy for the individuals and their families as they grieve and mourn this tragic loss.' Camp Koch, a 500-acre camp located on the Ohio River, is a popular place for Girl Scouts to camp during the summer, WXIN reported.

The Latest News Videos