An update to a Kane In Your Corner investigation shows not much has changed for some Sandy homeowners since we first reported on their house raising problems last May. The homeowners are recipients of the Pathway C RREM grant, a program in which the state chooses the contractor. Construction should have taken a maximum of three months, but some homeowners are still out of their homes a year later.
Steve Fritts, of Point Pleasant Borough, says he is at his wits end after waiting a year to move back into his home. TMB Services of Louisiana promised work would be finished after three months, which would have had him back home last February.
"The way he's working," says Fritts, "I'll be lucky to be back in three more months, really." Some of the work was done so poorly, it needs to be redone. "I don't know how they hired him. I really don't," says Fritts. "Someone didn't do their homework from day one."
Fritts' story isn't unusual. Bill Brasier also had his home lifted by TMB. The work is still incomplete, and his deck will have to be redone.
"I really feel that the state has dropped the ball on this," says Brasier. Brasier and Fritts are part of Pathway C, where the state hires and oversees the contractor. Seven homeowners were assigned to TMB. The state Department of Community Affairs says just two are back home.
Kane In Your Corner asked TMB to explain its poor performance. Owner Michael McClain says, "I'm not sure what you're talking about. I'm 95 percent done, if not 100 percent done, with my Pathway C homes."
TMB isn't the only contractor in the program to have problems. The state says of the 1,600 homeowners who signed up for Pathway C, only about 300 are back home, 800 are still waiting, and 500 have dropped out and switched to Pathway B, so they can pick their own contractor.
But Fritts and Brasier say they can't afford to switch now. They're going after TMB's performance bond. The state Department of Community Affairs says it does not advise homeowners to go after contractor's bonds because that can delay the process. The bonding company has to investigate and hire a new builder.
But Brasier and Fritts say they have no choice; they don't trust TMB to finish the job - and there's not enough grant money left to finish any other way.
Fritts says he's desperate to get home. "I don't believe anybody now. Anybody," says Fritts. "Because anytime you turn around, they say this, that or the other thing and nothing happens."