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Woman living in car after city deemed her Miami Gardens home unsafe

The owner of a Miami Gardens home fears that her house could collapse right on top of her.
The owner of a Miami Gardens home fears that her house could collapse right on top of her.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – A homeowner in Miami Gardens fears that her house could collapse right on top of her.

It’s been four years since a hurricane damaged 68-year-old Vanessa Wilcox’s roof, but now she is on the verge of homelessness.

“My roof, it wasn’t good, and it just got worse and worse and worse,” Wilcox said. “I have containers everywhere, in my bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, living room.”

Photos of the home’s interior show warped ceilings in multiple rooms thanks to water intrusion, which happens every time it rains. It’s something the City of Miami Gardens noted as workers deemed the one-story home an unsafe structure.

“I was devastated because I felt like I had been bamboozled, manipulated,” Wilcox said.

To be safe, she has been living in her car.

“No AC in the house at all,” Wilcox said. “Sometimes I take my dogs and we go for a little spin.”

It’s a tough situation for Wilcox’s neighbors to see unfolding.

“It’s not easy seeing her not even able to take a shower or heat some food or living out her car, and I mean, there’s a house right here,” said neighbor Joanne Vanderpool.

Wilcox has a contractor ready to repair her roof, thanks to a grant awarded through the state’s Rebuild Florida program.

But because of the condemn notice, that contractor legally can’t go inside the home to start the repair work.

“How you gonna condemn my property and I’m in the process of having my property redone, from the roof to the inside?” Wilcox said.

In a statement, the City of Miami Gardens said there’s a process that must be followed, but wheels were in motion to remedy the situation.

The full statement from The City of Miami Garden can be read below:

“Safety is a top priority for the City of Miami Gardens. Regrettably, Ms. Wilcox’s home was inspected and deemed unsafe after the City received expressions of concern for her safety due to state of the property and an impending storm, at the time. The City met with Ms. Wilcox and took all the necessary steps to provide assistance including hotel accommodations and connecting her with resources such as the Red Cross and Citrus Health. Once a building is deemed unsafe, a Design Professional and/or General Contractor must meet with the City’s Building Official or designee to discuss a detailed structural plan addressing the issues to ensure compliance and obtain all the necessary permits.

“Based on the attached report and photos, the City acted in the best interest of the resident to have her relocated until it’s safe to return to the home.

“Now that a Contractor is in place, the City will reach out to Ms. Wilcox to set up a meeting to have this rectified as quickly as possible. In addition to the grant she received from the State, the City also offers a Senior Beautification Program and recently announced a Weatherization program - both of which can be accessed and applied to Ms. Wilcox’s property once the structural plans have been presented for approval.”

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.