POINT PLEASANT - One month after a Kane In Your Corner investigation into Sandy grant problems, none of the homeowners interviewed are back home, and one has seen no progress at all on his home.
"It's just like when you were here the last time," says Steve Fritts, of Point Pleasant Beach. Fritts, 71, is literally able to rattle the walls of his home with his bare hands. The house was elevated and dropped on a new foundation, but was apparently never correctly bolted down. Following the original Kane In Your Corner report last month, Point Pleasant's Building Department put construction on hold until engineering reports could be conducted to determine how to proceed.
"I'm starting from scratch," he says. "The house is basically in worse shape than it was after the storm."
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There's been more progress at the home of Ty and Lisa Visco. Their power is hooked up and contractors have told them they might be back home in a few more weeks The problem is that the lease on their rental house expires Friday, so until work is finished, their new home will be a pop-up camper in their driveway. Ty Visco says his wife is "not too happy" about that, but says, "We've got to do what we have to do."
The Fritts and Viscos are among seven families who signed contracts with the state last summer to have their homes elevated and lifted using RREM grant money. They chose the now-defunct Option C, in which the state hires and oversees the contractor, in this case TMB Building Services of Louisiana. In return, homeowners were guaranteed all work would be complete and they would be back in their homes within 90 days. But it's been nearly nine months since the homeowners moved out on October 1, and work seems far from completion in some cases. Fritts says, "I'll be lucky if I get back in three more months, really."
Lisa Ryan, spokesperson for the NJ Department of Community Affairs, which oversees Sandy grants, says the agency will continue to monitor TMB Services closely. "We've also asked the homeowners to call us every week with an update on the progress of their project," Ryan says, adding, "We are committed to getting these homeowners across the finish line."