COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Missing and broken items, vandalism, and homes left wide open! WINK News found thousands of your dollars wasted on a Collier County-run program to rehab foreclosed homes with stimulus money. The Clerk of Courts hasn’t finished his audit into the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, so WINK did our own and you won’t believe what we found.
“A couple hundred dollars,” a Spanish translator says for Georgina Montell. That’s how much Montell has had to invest into her newly purchased Golden Gate home. It’s a home that was rehabbed with taxpayer money in the program. The problem is, she’s paying for items the county was already billed for when contractors fixed up the house.
From kitchen cabinet handles, to gaps and seams in corner joints; all of it billed to the county, paid with government money, and all of it not done.
“That’s an ugly, ugly job. Whatever people doing that job, it's an ugly job. No grouting, no caulking, no nothing. There's a big hole,” Montell’s translator explains.
Her home is far from the worst of the 37 listed as completed in the program.
WINK News found a multi-family home on 41st Street Southwest, all units still owned by the county, in complete disarray. We were able to go right in the open back door. What we found inside, a dirty mattress on the floor, someone’s half eaten food, and a stopped up toilet. Plus, the front door to one of the units was left unlocked. The contractor billed the county for $475 for property maintenance and security for the unit, when neighbors say it’s been open for quite some time.
Another home on 24th Avenue Southwest doesn’t look completed either. Not only has paint been splattered on the outside, but the county paid more than $1,400 for tree trimming and removal of debris, yet to be done.
House after house, we saw vandalism and discrepancies in billing. Many of the homes show invoices for air conditioning units that aren’t there, or are completely gutted.
Taxpayers may be thinking the same thing that’s on Montell’s mind with her new purchased home, “My money, what happened to my money?”
Of the homes completed in the program and sold by the county, four of the owners tell WINK News they were very pleased with their homes when they moved in, but weren’t sure if anything was missing.
The Clerk’s office hasn’t said when they expect their audit to be complete. The Clerk of Courts, Dwight Brock, has said he may need to work with the Sheriff’s Office due to criminal charges that could be filed for misused government money.