Imani Jackson Authors Article on Issues at a Jacksonville Habitat for Humanity Development
Imani Jackson, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information legal fellow, is the author of “Mold, Foundation Cracks, Sinking Houses: How a Florida Habitat for Humanity Neighborhood Fell Apart” published in Scalawag Magazine on Jan. 15.
The article focuses on problems at Fairway Oaks, a Habitat for Humanity development built 20 years ago in a special flood hazard area in northwest Jacksonville, Florida.
According to Jackson, “The method used to stabilize land in and around Fairway Oaks troubles many residents. Developers ‘filled in the low lying areas with trash,’ according to a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) audit report published eight years before Fairway Oaks’ construction. HUD also reported a designated dump in the area and that enveloping land was ‘used to deposit trash, thus fragmenting the dump.’”
Neighbors are now pressuring the city and HabiJax, Habitat for Humanity’s Jacksonville affiliate, to address their complaints.
She adds that Florida home buyers rely on guarantees of habitability, which ensure that homes meet certain standards before they are sold. The land where this development was built and the way the homes were constructed, raise questions about sacrificing normal housing standards to cut costs.
“Black, low-income and affordable housing communities often contend with construction quality challenges and many are sited in low-lying areas, near toxic industries, landfills, or other environmental hazards. This increases vulnerability to various forms of disaster — from industrial accidents to flooding to public health risks,” said Jackson. “These communities often possess fewer resources to prevent or recover from these crises, which highlight resiliency challenges.”