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Master carpenters of the left

If the road to Hades is indeed paved with good intentions, then many of the homes of Fairway Oaks must certainly be the houses from hell. In one of those jobs that Americana won’t take, the Times of London reports that the Habitat for Humanity houses that former President Jimmy Carter and some of his Hollywood homeboys nailed together in Florida just eight years ago are falling apart. Needless to say, the people who reside in those houses are not amused:

Fairway Oaks was built on northern Florida wasteland by 10,000 volunteers, including Carter, in a record 17-day “blitz” organised by the charity Habitat for Humanity.

Eight years later it is better known for cockroaches, mildew and mysterious skin rashes.

A forthcoming legal battle over Fairway Oaks threatens the reputation of a charity envied for the calibre of its celebrity supporters, who range from Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt to Colin Firth, Christian Bale and Helena Bonham Carter.

The case could challenge the bedrock philosophy behind Habitat for Humanity, claiming that using volunteers, rather than professional builders, is causing as many problems as it solves.

The Fairway Oaks homeowners, all 85 of them, have hired attorney April Charney to represent them against Habitat for Humanity. According to Charney, the charity never told Fairway Oaks residents that their homes had been built on a trash dump. Under the floorboards of one house, a man found a layer of trash 5 feet deep. Other problems reported with the humanity which inhabits the homes include walls that are cracked and door frames which rotted away, allowing rats and ants to enter the houses. Worse, residents have reported many cases of mildew and strange skin rashes.

One mother whose children were having skin problems said:

“The intentions are good, but when the politicians and big-shot stars have left we’re stuck with the consequences. This house looks pretty but inside it either stinks or sweats.”

One man who lives in Fairway Oaks chalks his neighbors’ problems up to poor maintenance of their homes:

“It’s simple stuff: if there is mildew, don’t get a lawyer, get a bottle of bleach.”

His house must not be one of those built on the trash dump.

One wonder if it ever occurred to the charity or any of the high-profile celebrities
who bankrolled this ventured ever bothered to get a geology report or look up the property records before they started raising rafters and hammering nails with the publicity photographers snapping away on their cameras. Sometime good intentions and a wad of money to throw at a problem aren’t enough to provide a lasting solution.

- JP

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