Kenneth Williams, senior pastor at New Spirit of Prayer church in Fort Worth, was given $825,000 in federal funds to build homes for the elderly and disadvantaged in the city in 2015. However, many of the homes built were inhabitable.
Homeowner Jimmy Isbell lives in one of the homes provided by the city as part of a program that will give elderly and disabled people improved living arrangements. He says that the house has missing rain gutters, water leaks through a wall and a blank spot in the bathroom marks where a walk-in shower was supposed to be installed.
Isbell called the home a “demon house” because now he and his wife have to sleep on a mattress in the living room.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Williams was unqualified to build homes in the area, he was barred from similar building projects and he wasn’t forthcoming about his financial history on his application.
City official Carl Wagner and Williams have been friends since childhood, and this relationship played a crucial role in Williams being hired.
“Carl knows everything about Kenneth, and Kenneth knows everything about Carl,” Williams’ ex-wife, Denice Williams said. “They’re best friends.”
Williams said that he could not adequately build homes with the city’s budget of $103,000 per house. There were constant delays and problems. At the time, other contractors made similar complaints, and the city was also having issues hiring others. Williams was one of the few options.
“I let my heart overrule better judgment,” said Williams.
Dallas officials overlooked Williams’s history, which includes bankruptcies and other cases in which he failed to do the jobs he was hired to do. In 2005, Fort Worth awarded a nonprofit run by Williams a $255,000 contract to build homes to sell to low-income families. Instead, he used the houses as collateral to back a loan, according to court records.
The news outlet’s investigation has sparked a federal investigation looking into the housing department as the department has a history of funds mismanagement.
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