Global Ministries Fellowship, Stonybrook complex owners, promise to continue fixing problems

Apartments at center of firestorm over conditions

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - Friday night, at Stonybrook apartments, calls for a miracle.

Kandi Strock-Mozsel of Jupiter, came to blow a prayer horn commonly used on the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

"The shofar is the trumpet of the Bible, the horn of the Bible. It is the voice, the breath of God. We're just believing they're going to have a breakthrough, and the owners will too," she said.

Residents - led by Riviera Beach mayor Thomas Masters, who has adopted their fight as his own - continued to demand change.

We spoke to Reverend Richard Hamlet of the Global Ministries Fellowship by phone from Tennessee.

The faith-based non-profit bought the complex in April - knowing full well it has failed a recent HUD inspection.

"My goodness, I can't change in 100 days what's been going on for thirty years," said Hamlet.

In fact, that's why his church bought it, the opportunity to help people.

He says they've turned around similar properties in five states, properties that now have HUD's approval.

"We're going to be around for 35 years investing in these residents and the next generation of their kids," said Hamlet.

He says they've already spent $350,000 on fix-ups and that they'll do extensive fumigation next week.

Federal rental assistance from HUD - taxpayer subsidy - accounts for about $1.5 of $2 million in rent money the complex collects.

He says the church's free social programs mean more will get fixed than the windows.

He had a message for complex residents:

"Help's on the way, hang on. Don't listen to anybody who is trying to say we are something other than what we stand for. We're not perfect. But we try to do the right thing in the right way," said Hamlet.

Mayor Thomas Masters said the owner's words mean little, not until the vermin in the apartments are gone.

"Whether you're acting in good faith, or not, that's not the point. When there's an emergency, you've got to act more than good faith. You've got to act in now faith," said Masters. "They say they can fix it, fix it."

Next week, a team of federal officials will be at the complex to inspect and to meet with the managers to go over how much it will cost to clean things up.

HUD officials also say that if they find the conditions bad enough, some residents may be given new housing vouchers to relocate.

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