Contractors discuss Ike funding nightmare

April 4, 2012 3:41:02 PM PDT
About Galveston residents dealing with liens on their homes for Hurricane Ike repairs that were never paid for. We're now hearing from one of the contractors who says cutting through the red tape was a nightmare.

The contractor says not only was cutting through red tape a nightmare, but getting paid was very slow. The city of Galveston says those homeowners who've been caught in the middle don't need to worry about the liens and that things will be different with the recovery housing program going forward.

In the slow process of rebuilding Galveston after Hurricane Ike, both homeowners and contractors alike say it's been one big headache.

"It's not working right and in a speedy manner," homeowner Romona Cammarn said.

"We've just had innumerable delays that have made it very difficult to be successful," said Bobby Vilios with Compass Pointe Homes.

After our story on Ike victims hit by liens aired on Monday, one of the contractors agreed to talk.

"The city of Galveston has had a lot of trouble getting it off the ground," Vilios said.

Now the owner of Compass Pointe Homes says he's owed more than $3 million. He says he got a check for $250,000 last week, and without that money from the city, Vilios says he can't pay his subcontractors.

But the city of Galveston says they've paid Compass Pointe Homes $8 million and still owe $2 million.

"They got a lot of the houses given to them to construct; I think they were just beyond their capability," said Michael Kovacs with the city of Galveston Public Works Department.

The state of Texas forced the city to change program administrators in January, and that company, URS, is in the process of revamping the way things are done.

Compass Pointe is no longer a part of it.

But the city says some of the red tape Compass Pointe faced has been eliminated, and the homeowners in the middle should have an easier time.

"We've got homes being assigned the new contractors right now," Kovacs said.

The city of Galveston sent us the following information for those homeowners in the disaster recovery housing program who are getting hit with liens:

1. Subcontractors have been filing liens or threatening to file liens on the properties of applicants who are participating in the City's housing program as the result of non-payment by two Prime Contractors who were awarded work.

2. The City of Galveston has entered into agreements with the Prime Contractors as to how and when they will be paid for the work successfully completed and how their subcontractors will be paid directly by the Program or by joint check.

3. The City of Galveston is working with URS to process payments for the Prime Contractors and subcontractors as quickly as possible to avoid the filing of liens.

4. Program participants are requested to notify the City of Galveston if they receive a Notice of Intent to Lien.

5. Under no circumstance should a program participant pay a subcontractor or supplier directly for any bill resulting from the City of Galveston's Disaster Recovery Housing Program.

6. Program participants with questions are asked to contact the URS office by calling 409-877-1645.

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