Broward County housing lottery leaves family out of luck

(WSVN) - A mother and her young son had hoped to be living the American dream by now, but a legal fight in Broward County has them questioning if their dream will ever come true.
7’s Brian Entin investigates.

It’s moments like these that Melanie Hemphill cherishes the most … playing ball with her 7-year-old son Kaleb and doing homework together after school.

Melanie is an elementary school teacher and values hard work and family.

Melanie Hemphill, frustrated home buyer: “Every parent’s desire is to ensure a financial security for their children and a roof over their head.”

Melanie found out about a housing lottery offered through Broward County.

Three homes located in Davie were available. She applied right away and was approved quickly.

Melanie Hemphill: “I was the only one with a complete packet at the time. I was able to choose which home I wanted out of the three.”

Melanie shared the good news with Kaleb and took him to see their future home.

Kaleb, Melanie’s son: “Whenever I get a chance, I could visit my cousin, pick him up and play with a big backyard.”

That was in November of 2015.

Melanie was told she would have her home sometime around April of the next year.

Melanie Hemphill: “As a single mom on a teaching salary, it’s a blessing, it’s a type of home I would not be able to afford on my own.”

What should have been a six-month process is now going on nearly two years — and Melanie still does not have the keys to this home.

We contacted Broward County to find out why Melanie doesn’t have her home yet.

We were told the county is in a lawsuit with the contractor, and could not comment. The contractor has not returned our call.

Scott Kleiman, Kalis, Kleiman & Wolfe Law Office: “To leave a woman and her young son hanging out there, now the victim of a lawsuit where the work isn’t getting completed. It makes no sense.”

Real estate attorney Scott Kleiman took a look at the case.

He says Broward County put the house in the lottery before it was finished being built.

Melanie made a down payment on the home in 2015. But in 2016, the contractor sued the county for “failing to comply with prompt payment.”

Scott Kleiman: “This is something that is on a four year plus construction track and just defies explanation.”

So while the county and the contractor fight it out in court, Melanie and Kaleb are still holding on their dream.

Kaleb: “We”ll have a happily ever after.”

Melanie Hemphill: “It’s disheartening, especially when you know that this is everything that you worked for your entire life.”

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