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Charlie Crist: Federal investigation needed into Jordan Park finances

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Saying he was shocked by the deplorable living conditions, former Gov. Charlie Crist said the feds need to investigate the finances at the publicly owned Jordan Park Apts. in south St. Petersburg.

Charlie Crist Jordan ParkCrist spent Thursday morning touring the complex and listening to details of the conditions at the complex. He heard tales of rats, roaches and mold. He saw outdated, rusty appliances that needed replacing.

“It’s intolerable. It’s unconscionable. It’s not to be tolerated,” Crist said of the living conditions. “They’re deplorable.”

Crist said “the unanswered question” is what’s happening to tax money and tenant rents that are being paid to help keep the complex in good shape.

“You have to wonder where it’s going,” he said.

An investigation is called for he said.

“I would do it my first day in office – call for an investigation,” he said.

Charlie Crist Jordan ParkCrist, a Democrat, is running for the Congressional District 13 seat currently held by Rep. David Jolly. Crist will face the winner of the Republican primary, either Jolly or Mark Bircher, in the Nov. 8 election.

Crist’s tour of Jordan Park came after news reports of the living conditions at the complex. Among the complaints are the presence of rats, roaches, mold and mildew in apartments.

“My issue is the rats,” Jordan Park resident Carolyn Peters said. She said she can hear them above her head: “They act like they are playing football.”

But it’s not just rodents, and bad appliances. Residents say management comes into apartments for inspections with no notice, sometimes setting off alarm systems. And management, they said, has them fearful they will be tossed out if they openly talk about conditions.

This is not the first time conditions at Jordan Park have caused complaints. Conditions were so bad in the late 1990s that the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which owns the 24 acres the development is built on, received a $27 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Charlie Crist Jordan Park The original park was razed and the current complex with 237 units in 104 buildings was constructed. Construction was complete in 2002. Rents are subsidized and tax credits are also provided for the running of the park.

Residents said they have complained both to management and to the St. Petersburg Housing Authority but got little to no response. That is until Augie Ribeiro came calling.

Ribeiro, who is running in the Democratic primary for State House District 19, paid for an inspector to come look at the complex.

The inspector was not able to finish a full inspection because officials told him to get off the property, said Terri Lipsey Scott, chair of the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. The museum is located on Jordan Park property.

But Shelton Home Inspections was able to issue a partial report. Among the findings: leaks in the plumbing pipes that allow waste water to drain into the crawl space under at least one apartment. The inspector added, “We noted an open cast iron drain pipe that needs to be sealed to prevent rodents and sewer gas from entering the structure.”

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