(WSVN) - The state told a group home to get a generator or face a hefty fine. The company they hired to install it missed the deadline. Do they have to pay? Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser sorting it out.
If you have a family member who is intellectually disabled, you know they are so amazing.
Amy O’Donnell: “He taught be about unconditional love, patience, gratitude.”
And if these kids with special needs are angels, the woman who runs the group home that cares for them is a saint.
Amy O’Donnell: “This is a labor of love. Hilda loves these kids. I love Hilda. The staff here has been amazing.”
Hilda Ortega: “When you do something and you like it, you enjoy it.”
Hilda has a gift, able to connect with the boys, proof Albert says his 15-year-old son was not able to use the bathroom when he moved into Hilda’s group home.
Albert Mizrahi: “Fifteen years we could not get him to do it. She managed to do it in a very short period of time, which is remarkable.”
Hilda can work miracles with the boys but is getting nowhere with a generator company.
Hilda Ortega: “I tried to talk to the owner, and he never returned my phone calls.”
When nursing home residents died from the heat after Hurricane Irma, the state required facilities like this to have a generator to run the home.
Sixteen months ago, Hilda signed a contract with a company to install a $15,000 generator, gave them a $10,000 deposit and waited.
Amy O’Donnell: “We’ve heard excuses after excuses. They keep pushing this completed project schedule deadline over and over and over, and it’s still not done.”
In a letter the company said it would be installed by February 2021. It wasn’t.
They said it would be ready by June 2021. It wasn’t.
Instead, in June the Hollywood Fire Department notified Hilda she had missed the state deadline to have the generator.
Amy O’Donnell: “We are going to start incurring fines of a thousand dollars per day.”
Without the generator and unable to pay the fines, it means the home that cares for Aaron and Jacob and the other boys could have to shut down and the boys split up and sent to other group homes.
Amy O’Donnell: “It’s frightening, it’s scary, it’s unbelievable.”
Well, Howard, the group home is trying to follow the law but is facing $1,000 a day fines because a generator company isn’t doing their job, so legally, what can Hilda do?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: ‘Well, first of all Hilda shouldn’t have to pay the $1,000 a day fine because she is doing everything in her power to get the generator, and legally, you can’t force a company to speed up. You could fire them, but then you are starting over again and battling to get your deposit back.”
After we contacted the company in June, the generator was delivered in July.
But the delays continued…
The city of Hollywood said the company failed the electrical inspection three times.
The city fined them $75 for calling for a reinspection when nothing had been done.
They installed one propane tank when the city requires four.
It’s now October, the city is waiting for the company to put “no smoking” stickers on each tank instead of one. and provide detailed paperwork before they approve the generator.
The company owner responded: “Our industry has been greatly affected by the effects of last year’s pandemic. There have been numerous supply chain challenges with our generator and gas tanks suppliers for the last 58 weeks across the entire United States.”
She added, “We are very happy Mrs. Ortega has a fully functioning generator in place for her kids.”
The generator works but one more hurdle: the costs have soared.
The price going from $15,000 to $24,000. Group homes don’t have that kind of money.
Amy O’Donnell: “We’re short $9,000. Yeah, it would be, it would be a miracle if we can raise that.”
And so Amy and Hilda have started a GoFundMe page for the boys to ask for the $9,000 to pay the extra costs for the boys’ generator.
Amy O’Donnell: “To help a group home who’s doing so much for children, who’s doing so much for the community, it would just be a wonderful gesture of goodwill.”
In a way, Hilda is lucky, many companies gave up during the pandemic, took the deposits and ran. Her generator company hung in there.
Also, Hollywood did not fine Hilda a thousand dollars a day because they realize it’s not her fault the deadline has been missed.
And finally, if you can help her raise that $9,000 in extra costs to pay for the generator, go to her go fund me page in the link below. Help keep the boys safe and happy in their group home.
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Link to GoFundMe page to help Hilda and the boys: https://gofund.me/e6645562
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