Dixwell homeowners who say their dream homes have fallen apart due to shoddy workmanship have taken their protest one step further with a lawsuit filed against the city and the private developers who built the homes.
Lisa Hopkins (pictured) and 14 other homeowners on Frances Hunter Drive, represented by attorney John R. Williams, filed the suit last week in New Haven Superior Court. The suit is the next step in neighbors’ fight, a fight that has united a new community of Dixwell neighbors. Click here for an in-depth story on their efforts.
Hopkins and her neighbors bought homes on a new one-block street in Dixwell that rose from the ashes of the Elm Haven housing project in 2005. A private developer, Jonathan Rose’s Eaton Row LLC, built 27 new modular single-family homes there with government help.
After moving into the glistening, quiet street, the new homeowners said they began to see problems. Talking to each other a year and a half after moving in, they shared outrage over flooding, porches already separating from their houses, bug infestation, broken heating systems, and cracks running through all their walls.
The suit filed Wednesday names Mayor John DeStefano Jr., the City of New Haven, New Haven Housing Authority, Eaton Row LLC, the Affordable Housing Development Company LLC, and Jonathan Rose Companies LLC. It claims homeowners 14th amendment rights were quashed as they were allegedly not given equal protection by those who enforce city housing code.
The defendants “acted jointly and in conspiracy with each other for the purpose of obtaining improper political and economic advantage for themselves” at the expense of plaintiffs, the suit charges. The “financial greed” of the three corporate defendants led them to minimize construction costs and construction oversight, the homeowners charge.
DeStefano “intentionally and maliciously failed and refused to enforce the building code” in order to speed construction of the homes, whose completion would be a political accomplishment, according to the suit.
Mayoral spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga flatly denied that and other charges. “We deny that any of this is true because there were a number of efforts made on behalf of the city, particularly through LCI [the Livable City Initiative], to engage the developer to respond to the concerns of the residents.”
LCI inspectors visited the homes and “pushed the developer to make all improvements necessary,” Mayorga said, but only six of the homeowners actually let LCI inspectors in. “I don’t know what kept some of these homeowners from cooperating with LCI, but the homes that did receive improvements were those who cooperated with LCI inspectors.”
Reached for comment Monday, Dara Kovel, Connecticut Regional Director of the Jonathan Rose Companies LLC, said “with any new construction, there is some amount of settling that happens.” The company is working with several homeowners addressing settling concerns, she said: “Those homeowners who have reached out to us and told us what those issues are, are getting those issues addressed.”
“I believe that the record and the facts show that all the appropriate inspections were done,” continued Kovel. The complex is an “exemplary” model of mixed-income, green development in an urban setting, she said. “We are really proud of the work that we did on Eaton Row.”
posted by: on whalley on November 6, 2007 11:34am
You want to sue the private builders fine but what do you get by suing the city? You’re suing me and anyone who has every paid a cent of taxes to New Haven. You’re taking money from all the “precious” services the city provides at our already obscene expense.
If you want to sue the city sue them for a failure to provide the services they claim to provide and demand a refund for every taxpayer. Not so you can pocket my money.
It’s not like any government ever feels the pain of a lawsuit anyway. They just jack up the taxation, increase the ticket/fine quotas and recoup OUR money they lost to YOU if not more money than they lost. It’s a pyramid scheme of the grandest scale and suing them just siphons a little from the top to be reabsorbed in the base only to get sucked back to the top.
Maybe you can strike a deal and get to live in one of the $300K bus stops? That money has already been wasted. There’s no getting that back.
posted by: robn on November 6, 2007 5:57pm
I think its fair that buyers’ concerns be addressed, but this article leaves some question as to whether the buyers exhausted all reasonable efforts before suing. Since the project contains some affordable housing and is therefore subsidized by tax dollars, it would be nice if the buyers make their best effort before suing the taxpayers who helped pay for the project. This kind of thing angers taxpayers who support subsidized housingit and emboldens those who would prefer to totally eliminate it.
posted by: 2Faced on November 6, 2007 7:40pm
On Whalley-Get off your soapbox for a minute and put your self in the shoes of these hard working people; who only wanted to obtain a piece of the “American Dream”.
Unfortunately, those in charge of this affordable housing development fell short in providing these taxpayers with quality homes. As usual there is always someone eager to offer a band-aid for a much bigger issue…over-hauling OUR CITY GOVERNMENT… not blaming the victims for increased taxes; you, insensitive individual…have you forgotten…these homeowners are part of the “Taxed Majority” of this city? If our city can stand up for illegal immigrants, we need to rally behind those that are legal and paying city taxes and are not receiving assistance in addressing REAL issues connected with their homes…Lets celebrate the fact that this culturally and economically diverse group of taxpayers united to address unfair practices…this has the potential to change the method in which local government officials and developers manage future housing projects…this lawsuit is something that will protect and benefit ANY person(s) wishing to purchase a home within city limits that is built with city, state and/or federal funds…In the past there has not been a checks and balance system setup to safe guard consumers against unfair practices and poorly built housing on a local level….This lawsuit screams:
WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH!
Kudos ...to these 14 Trail Blazers…what they are doing will make city officials and private developers accountable for responsible project management and exceptional production quality…Your opinion regarding the rubber stamped city budget and increased taxes for everyone is commendable but, those involved with selling these consumers sub-standard homes must be exposed and dealt with and if that means filing a lawsuit against everyone involved to get a resolution…THAT IS WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN!
ON WHALLEY…ARE YOU SUGGESTING THAT SOMETHING AS IMPORTANT AS PURCHASING A HOME (which is a long-term financial investment)...IS SOMETHING NOT WORTH FIGHTING FOR? IF THE CITY PLAYED A ROLE IN THIS FIASCO ALONG SIDE THE DEVELOPER AND OTHERS THEY SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. ARE YOU TELLING THE READERS THAT YOU WOULD HAPPILY EAT THE COST OF ANY AND ALL REPAIRS FUMBLED BY THOSE IN QUESTION TO SAVE THE CITY A BUCK, WHEN THEY DROPPED THE BALL? IF IT WERE YOUR HOUSE…WOULD YOU TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM?
posted by: FAIRHAVEN DAVE on November 6, 2007 7:59pm
I can’t wait to see how they are going to prove that the mayor and city are directly at fault for a contractors shoddy craftsmanship. The connection was illustrated in the article, but the proof was not.
Show us something tangible and we will all get the pitchforks and torches out. Right now this just looks like a lawyer taking advantage of a situation that is already be in the process of being resolved. I am not saying this is the case, but that is what it looks like.
2FACED, there is something wrong with your caps lock.
FUN FACT: These residents ARE getting equal protection from inspectors. None of us get any, so we are all equal. Dig?
posted by: Fedupwithliberals on November 6, 2007 8:46pm
Just curious after learning about the raping of taxpayers over the cost of heated bus stops. Can someone tell me how much these homes went for, and how much we were billed for them?