Four Tampa families could soon see government funds to help rehab their homes, equipped with hazardous Chinese drywall.
Thousands of homes built during the real estate boom of the early 2000s were tainted with Chinese drywall, a building material made in China that emits sulfurous fumes. The drywall is both costly to replace and hazardous to the health of those living in the homes.
In early November, Hillsborough County commissioners announced that affordable housing funds could be dedicated the four families who have lived in government subsidized housing built with Chinese Drywall for nearly nine years. But, that offer is contingent on a similar agreement from both the Tampa Housing Authority and the City of Tampa; both helped the families purchase the Belmont Heights homes years ago.
Ken Hagan, county commissioner, said the Housing Authority feels a responsibility to help these families.
“I’m disappointed in the reluctance of the Housing Authority to step up and do the right thing,” Hagan said. “Not only are these folks living through a financial nightmare, but their health is in jeopardy.”
The commissioners did not reveal the amount of money the county would provide to the four families, but did say the funds would come from the State Housing Initiatives Partnership, which is used to build and preserve affordable housing. The three parties are set to form an agreement by the end of December.
An October Tampa Bay Times report revealed the struggles a dozen Tampa area families were facing with Chinese drywall. Most of the families live in public housing and were originally unaware that the homes, purchased through a Housing Authority home ownership program, were built with the toxic material.
The drywall is known to release sulfurous gases that eat at copper wire and coils and can damage electrical wiring. People living in homes with Chinese drywall report chronic headaches, nosebleeds, and breathing difficulties.
When the Housing Authority and Michaels Development Co., the principal developer of the Belmont Heights housing project, claimed it was not their responsibility to help the residents, eight of the families walked away from their homes.
In deserting the houses, these families jeopardized their credit ratings and at least one filed for bankruptcy. The remaining four are currently left with high mortgage payments, serious health issues, and nearly worthless homes.
The class-action lawsuit filed against the drywall manufacturer has been held up in the courts for quite some time.
To rehabilitate the four homes, the drywall will need replaced, a project expected to cost around $70,000 per home; the wiring must be stripped and inspected for corrosion; and many of the air conditioners will also need replaced. For more information regarding families receiving assistance, [Click Here].