‘I can’t fix it because I don’t have the money to do it’: ReBuild NC under scrutiny from homeowners

Woman speaks out about ReBuild NC Home Improvement issues
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 11:25 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2023 at 10:10 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - ReBuild NC, the state agency designed to help victims of hurricanes Florence and Matthew find safer and more resilient homes, is facing criticism for alleged damages that have gone unrepaired.

Some of the new homeowners say their homes don’t fit that bill.

One Whiteville woman has lived in her ReBuild NC home for three years and says she has filed many complaints, but those complaints, have gone unaddressed.

One problem was noticeable from the day she took her first walk through the home.

“I came in the front door. And I looked at the floor. I say, ‘Oh, no, I’m not signing anything.’ I said, ‘What is that?’” asked Aggie Johnson.

Johnson recalls being told to sign the documents, and that the issues she noticed would then be fixed. She claims, however, that they never were.

According to Johnson, the floors are not level, there is siding coming off the walls, the bathroom is not handicapped accessible and she often does not get hot water. Additionally, she says the back door does not properly close, making her often feel unsafe and uncomfortable in her own home.

Johnson said she wished ReBuild NC could have been more transparent with her future living conditions when deciding to move from her previous home. She said then, she would have rethought the entire decision.

“To be honest, I would’ve felt better if they told me, ‘Well, we can give you a house, but it’s not going to be as nice as the one you had. It’s not going to be a house like the one you had, it’s going to be less room.’ Now if they would have said that. I would’ve said ‘Ok I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll keep mine and seek a loan or something to fix it,’” said Johnson. “But they didn’t say that. The only thing they told me is that they weren’t going to give me the brick underpinning, but I found later that in some areas, they did.”

Johnson says ReBuild NC has told her that her case is closed.

“I said ‘Why has it closed when nobody came and repaired anything?’”

Laura Hogshead, the director of ReBuild NC, says the organization strives to fix all issues caused by general contractors within the first year of a hurricane victim living in a home.

Hogshead says they first have to determine whether the issues fall back on the homeowner or general contractor.

“We want to make sure that we understand that this problem that is being experienced is a result of the workmanship of that unit. And so we want to make sure that it really is the general contractor’s fault,” said Hogshead. “That’s why we send our inspector out to make sure that we understand the scope of the problem. And then we hold that general contractor accountable. "

But Johnson believes the issues she faces are because of the way the home was built, and she claims she did make several complaints within the first year.

She says those issues have gone unrepaired, and hopes ReBuild NC will someday take action.

“I don’t feel right making payments on something that’s raggedy, I know I can’t fix it because I don’t have the money to do it.”