Some people may have expected Marco Rubio to coast his way through the last few months of Senate term after withdrawing from the presidential race. An alleged slumlord in Jacksonville might regret seeing Rubio back in the Senate — and Global Ministries Foundation certainly will regret his visit to their HUD-funded Section 8 housing facility, Eureka Gardens. Local news station WJXT has been reporting on Eureka Gardens for months, and was on hand yesterday when an angry Rubio castigated their spokesperson on camera, calling GMF “disgusting” and pledging to launch a federal investigation into their use of HUD funding:
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Friday called for a federal criminal investigation into the Tennessee-based owner of the Eureka Garden and Washington Heights subsidized apartment complexes in Jacksonville.
Rubio toured 400-unit Eureka Garden complex and called conditions there “atrocious” and “clearly not habitable for humans.” He labeled Global Ministries Foundation a slumlord and said the company operating as a non-profit is a sham.
He even told people working for Global Ministries during his tour what they are doing is horrible and inexcusable. The freshman senator, who is in his last year in office, told reporters he wants to “put (Global Ministries) out of business.”
A GMF spokesperson later claimed that the non-profit has already put $1 million into the complex and planned to spend another $1.5 million this summer. However, as the Florida Times-Union notes, HUD has given the non-profit over six million dollars in rent subsidies for six properties in Jacksonville over the past two years, and the Eureka Gardens complex shows little evidence of serious investment:
Rubio, City Council member Garrett Dennis, Mayor Lenny Curry and top officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have been critical of the situation at Eureka and some other complexes owned by Global Ministries. Their concerns have included mold, gas leaks, water damage, and the stairs, some of which were patched with painted tape. The company owns more than 60 complexes in several states and received $6.3 million in federal funding in 2014 to subsidize rent at its six Jacksonville properties.
This doesn’t look like a politician looking to coast his way into the private sector. Florida voters might wish for a second look at Rubio despite his recent presidential-primary loss and his declaration that he will leave electoral politics for the near future. If nothing else, the clip is worth watching just for the righteous indignation from Rubio and Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry. The real measure of its significance will be whether it leads to changes for Eureka Gardens and the failures of HUD to ensure the proper oversight over federal funding.