Port Authority chairman William 'Hoe" Brown's rental property deemed 'unfit'
9:43 PM, Jul 10, 2013
1:54 AM, Jul 11, 2013
The chairman of the Tampa Port Authority said he takes full responsibility for running illegal rental property.
Code Enforcement deemed that property owned by William Brown, who is also a prominent Republican fundraiser, is deplorable and unfit for people to live.
A visit to the property in Seminole Heights behind Brown's property management office found that the trailers in question are gone, and the area was being cleaned up.
But code enforcement officials say they will now look at all of Brown's other properties to make sure they are not in the same horrible condition.
Jake Slate got a first-hand look at the trailers, and saw families living in filth. "First thing was the overall stench, overwhelming," he said. "And the roaches on the soiled door frame and on the mattress."
He is director of neighborhood empowerment in Tampa. "It was one the worst things that I've ever seen."
Neighbors say since those trailers were put there, there's been nothing but trouble.
Next-door neighbor Janai Harris said "At least once a day, there would be police or something."
Things were so bad here, tenants were given just a day to vacate. And the trailers were hauled away yesterday.
Today, the backyard behind William Brown's office was freshly mowed. And his spokesperson, Beth Leytham, said the chairman of the Tampa Port Authority was inside, but too stressed to talk to the media.
"He does take full responsibility and he wishes he was a little more attentive to the day-to-day operations."
She also says rent money was returned to the tenants, and they were given help relocating. She said all seven residents found new housing. "We have great lengths to do everything we can to make it right."
Officials say it's illegal to even have trailers on this property, but Brown insists he thought it was zoned for commercial use.
And as for the condition people were living in, he told code enforcement had didn't realize it had gotten so bad."
"He wasn't an absentee landlord," said Slate. "He was right there on the premises. If he did any type of inspections at all in the back, he would quickly realize there was something wrong."
Because Brown complied with code enforcement and got rid of the trailers, he's actually not facing any fines.
Along with looking at his other properties, officials say the phone is ringing off the hook with reports of other rentals around Hillsborough County that might also be unfit for living.