MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The City of Memphis is strapped for cash, but that doesn't stop it from handing out free money to fix up homes. Thanks to a Memphis city program, taxpayers picked up the $2 million tab for people to get major home repairs.
150 residents took advantage of the program last year. In many cases, the money spent rehabilitating their homes cost more than the homes are even worth.
"I wouldn't have a bootleg person come out to fix my house and that's what this looks like, a bootleg," said Barbara Davis of the contractors the city hired to fix her house. "This is unprofessional."
From improperly installed railings, warped new kitchen cabinets to a new roof that's already leaking, the list goes on and on.
Davis' house is valued at $17,000. The City of Memphis paid a contractor $23,000 to make the repairs.
The truth is, the city regularly pays more to fix houses than they are worth.
The city spent $29,000 rehabbing a house on Kerr only valued at $19,000.
For a house on Hyde Park worth $24,000, taxpayers forked over $35,000 to fix it up.
So is it money well spent? According to Davis, "These people didn't do it right."
Davis said employees from the city's HARP program (Housing and Rehabilitation Program) signed off on the sloppy job. When she called city hall, her complaints fell on deaf ears. Once city hall discovered she was talking with ABC 24's Jeni DiPrizio, things got ugly.
Davis: They came out here the other day and told me don't talk to y'all.
DiPrizio: Who was that?
Davis: The people at the HARP program.
DiPrizio: So the HARP people told you not to talk to me?
Davis: Seriously, they did.
Davis said she was told if she shut up, the city would come back and fix the mess. Instead of being quiet she's talking anyway, hoping taxpayers find out what's really going on.
"If you're going to send someone out to do the work, send someone who is going to do the work properly," she said.
There are a lot of questions about this city program: who gets work done, how contractors are chosen, and why the city is spending more money fixing homes than they are worth. But the truth is, no one from city hall would agree to be interviewed.
In fact, Mayor Wharton's spokesperson stated Housing and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb said there was nothing to talk about, and if people weren't satisfied they should call city hall and not the media.
The truth is, as Davis found out, calling the city is a waste of her time and your money.
If you want Jeni DiPrizio to get the truth for you, send an email to email@example.com