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Owner of Violation-Prone Group Home Defends Mission

Updated: Thursday, May 1 2014, 10:56 AM CDT


He has been cited numerous times by the city of Springfield for a laundry list of building and zoning violations, but he continues to operate a set of group homes for people with physical and mental disabilities.

In addition to the building violations, there's also debate as to whether Jeremiah Elugbadebo, who runs Joyce's Community Home for Adults at two separate addresses on North Fifth Street, can even legally do so.

Elugbadebo is a social worker, but he doesn't have a license to operate a facility for people with special needs. He says he doesn't need one because the residents' relatives handle their medications and he only provides them with food and a place to stay.

"If I can keep some people out of the street, that would be great," Elugbadebo said.

Elugbadebo moved to the United States from Nigeria in 1981.

"I just realized there was a need for this. A need for housing for people who have special needs," Elugbadebo said.

Everyone who lives at Joyce's Community Home for Adults either has a mental or physical disability.

And while you could chalk up the smiles that spanned the room when Newschannel 20 came to visit, to the presence of TV cameras it seems everyone who lives there is happy.

"Well he cooks our food and everything. And he tells me to clean my room," resident Brian Munsch said.

For 10 years Elugbadebo has run the group homes. He says the residents come and go about every six months, but even more often than that, Elugbadebo finds himself in court.

"Some of the allegations are overblown," Elugbadebo said.

The allegations span from bedbugs to violating fire code. But Elugbadebo says he has fixed the problems and paid the fines.

"You know I'm not telling them not to regulate homes and do the right thing. Bad landlord? Take care of them. I'm not against that. And if something's bad, you know, let's fix it," Elugbadebo said.

Enos Park Neighborhood Association President Michelle Higginbotham, who looks after this area, says there's some things Elugbadebo hasn't fixed.

"I think our biggest concern is the complete lack of oversight and regulation of these properties. No one seems to know for sure how many people are living there at any given time, who's living there. He has this combination of mentally ill people, people with mental and physical disabilities," Higginbotham said.

Elugbadebo says seven or eight people live in the home at 1010 North Fifth Street and six others live in the home at 911 North Fifth Street. Most of the residents are on Social Security Disability. They each have designated payees who handle their money including the rent, which is $525 a month.

Elugbadebo says that includes meals, utilities and cable. He also says he is not operating the homes to turn a profit.

"You can't be mean to do this job. I'm not a mean person. I'm not. I love what I'm doing. I'm taking care of them. We live like a family," Elugbadebo said.

Elugbadebo says he'll continue to fight to operate the home. Meanwhile, the Enos Park Neighborhood Association says it will continue its fight to make sure regulations are followed.
Owner of Violation-Prone Group Home Defends Mission

Owner of Violation-Prone Group Home Defends Mission

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