By Mayor Joy Cooper
HALLANDALE BEACH -
When Helping One Of Our Most Loyal Residents Is Met With Numerous Obstacles
Over the past year, our CRA staff has been working to improve the living conditions of one of our long standing residents, Mrs. Iva Wallace. She has lived in Hallandale Beach since the 1940’s and raised her children in the same home. It is an original Bahamian styled house. Regretfully, the house is crumbling around her. Mrs. Wallace is 84 years young and truly needed help.
The story began almost a year ago when Mrs. Wallace received notice that there were multiple code violations that must be repaired. At that time, our officer informed Mrs. Wallace that our CRA had programs to help her repair her home. These programs provide forgivable loans to fix code violations. She was given the information and our staff was committed to work with her to ensure she was living in a safe home.
Obliviously, Mrs. Wallace being in her 80’s, needed extra assistance to navigate the process. She reached out to community leaders. In turn, they reached out to Commissioner Sanders who lives in her neighbor. He was also committed to help her. The first step in the process was securing a full assessment of the home and what needed to be done.
Anyone that has done work on a home knows, how complex it becomes even with the simplest renovation jobs. This home was even more complex due to the age. Engineering surveys of the land and structure of the home needed to be completed. All of the plumbing and electric needed to be inspected. There also needed to be certification and inspection to ensure no asbestos was present in the home. All of these inspections were needed to get a baseline of what need to be completed.
Mrs. Wallace hired Nujak which is one of the companies that has done multiple jobs in our CRA and is very familiar with the process. The combined bill for the inspections were over $7,000 dollars. The bill has been audited and verified by our staff and is and was in line with all the customary fees for construction inspections.
After all of the inspections were performed, it was found that the worked needed, cost well over 50% more than value of the house. It became a catch 22 with what to do. The CRA did not have a policy to cover replacement homes and had not had to face this type of issue. We also have to be fiscal prudent with our CRA. We do not just give people a new home. We help people buy new homes with down payment assistance, they then have a mortgage that they payoff with the bank and as long as they stay in the home for 5 years with the down payment being forgivable.
Director Sanders, Executive Director Miller and Director Rosemond started to tackle this issue. As a Board of Directors, we cannot talk among ourselves unless it is at a public meeting. Director Sanders brought up this issue in an open transparent manor at our CRA meeting. Mrs. Wallace was even present with her daughters at one of the meetings. It was discussed and the entire board agreed that we would establish a replacement home policy. The policy was adopted as a way to help address antiquated homes.
Over the course of the next few months, staff met with Mrs. Wallace and her daughters on numerous occasions to work out the details. Our CRA is in the process of building brand new for sale affordable housing. Eight such homes were being built and it was agreed that Mrs. Wallace could be eligible for one of the brand new homes which were being constructed for sale by agreeing to a land swap.
Mrs. Wallace's current home was on the tax rolls at $28,000 valued. The CRA agreed to land swap the property. This land swap combined with the down payment assistance of $50,000 provided the ability to Mrs. Wallace to purchase the brand new home. The contract would have provided the same benefit as our other agreements. Forgiveness of the down payment assistance. The CRA approved the agreement and directed staff to execute the necessary contracts.
Mrs. Wallace’s daughters when sitting down with staff pulled the deal. They did not want to pay for the originally cost of inspections and did not want to have to pay any payment to the cost of the new home. The monthly fee would have been $100 dollars monthly. They thought it was all going to be free and clear. After a month of coming up with a solution, not only did they not agree, they went to the press to complain that the city was trying to take Mrs. Wallace’s home which was the furthest thing from the truth. It comes down to the old saying no good deed goes unpunished.
Last week, Reverend Fox from Mrs. Wallace’s church, former Commissioner John Saunders, CRA staff, Director Sanders, Mrs. Wallace and her daughters all met to try and resolve the disagreement. Executive Director Miller offered to absorb the inspection cost, however the dilemma over the value of the land swap and the brand new home was not resolved. To date, Mrs. Wallace is now living with her daughter in West Park and the home is sitting empty and falling apart.
The family will now have to decide what they are going to do to help their mother. Ideally, she wants to rebuild her home on the same site. The question now becomes how she will pay for it. Our solution gave her a brand new two bedroom home to live out her days at a minimal cost. If the family had to sell the home they still would be able to take the proceeds from the sale that is valued well over the current home and land.
Please remember it is hurricane season. Our city is ready, are you? Do you know that once a storm strikes our first responders must retreat until after the storm passes? That means there may likely be a time when you are on your own. Be prepared with water, food and other needs to sustain your health and safety.
As always feel free to reach out to me with your questions, concerns and ideas to make our city a better place. I can be reached at my office number: (954) 457-1318. You can call or text me on my cell at: (954) 632-5700. Or you can visit my web-site at: www.mayorjoycooper.com.