Tonight a 7News exclusive; a disturbing look at living conditions inside some South Florida homes, but perhaps even more troubling is that they are owned by a public official. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero in on the case.
Mushrooms growing from a bathroom ceiling, black mold formed from a water leak. This is the bathroom used by residents of a Fort Lauderdale sober home, a place where recovering addicts come for help.
Logan Broliath: “It was horrible. I mean, again, you’re breathing that in. I could smell it all the time.”
Logan Broliath moved here after being given the option to get out jail.
Logan Broliath: “I jumped at the chance. Didn’t really care, just wanted out of jail.”
He says he has complained long and hard about conditions here.
Logan Broliath: “I’ve been raising hell for a long time about the program and such.”
Carmel Cafiero: “Anybody listening to you?”
Logan Broliath: “Apparently not.”
Jacqueal Turk lives at a different sober home.
Jacqueal Turk: “It’s been terrible. It’s been saddening. It really is disgusting, nasty filthy.”
Here we found rat droppings all over the toaster oven and refrigerator, a strong stench of urine and rodent droppings on the window sill. Foam was sprayed along baseboards in an apparent attempt at pest control.
Jacqueal Turk: “This water doesn’t work anymore.”
And even though women live here, the bathroom window doesn’t close.
Jacqueal Turk: “Everyone is complaining about bed bugs, roaches, rat feces, urine, no AC. There’s no TV working. There’s no phone working.”
Carmel Cafiero: “Ms. Freeman, Channel 7. We’d like to talk to you about conditions at the sober homes you run.”
Both properties are owned by Maria Freeman, a commissioner with the Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority. An agency dedicated to assisting “…Low income families with safe, decent and affordable housing…”
Carmel Cafiero: “Look at this. It’s mushrooms growing on the ceiling.”
I showed her pictures of what we saw and Freeman admitted the conditions are not OK.
Carmel Cafiero: “Well then, why do you allow them to continue? What’s funny about this?”
Maria Freeman: “It’s not funny. It’s just the way this is going on.”
She said she had not seen what we saw.
Maria Freeman: “‘Cause I haven’t seen that.”
Carmel Cafiero: “Well why don’t you go there now. We’ll go there with you.”
According to Commissioner Freeman’s online bio, she is a licensed general contractor and roofing contractor with a masters degree in construction management. Freeman met us at the home with the mold and mushrooms.
Maria Freeman: “Well we have been trying to take care of it. We’ve had the bathtub changed, replaced upstairs.”
Carmel Cafiero: “What about the black mold here?”
Maria Freeman: “Honestly, this is the first time I have seen this particular black mold. It should not be there.”
Carmel Cafiero: “Well isn’t it your responsibility?”
Maria Freeman: “Of course it’s my responsibility and of course it is gonna get taken care of.”
Freeman had little to say about conditions at the second property, but did say she had no idea the bathroom window did not close.
Carmel Cafiero: “And these are sober homes, these are people in need aren’t they?
Maria Freeman: “Nobody should have to live like that regardless of who they are.”
Carmel Cafiero: “Maria Freeman invited us to come back when the issues at her sober homes are corrected. We accept and we’re waiting for the call. Carmel Cafiero, 7News.”
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