Taxpayer-Funded HARP Program Improved, but Far from Fixed

Taxpayer-Funded HARP Program Improved, but Far from Fixed

You paid for it: expensive, taxpayer-funded home renovations that left many homes in worse shape than before. ABC 24 News first exposed problems with the HARP program last fall. Memphis leaders promised to revamp its troubled home repair program as of April 1st. Now the question is whether the city kept that promise.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - You paid for it: expensive, taxpayer-funded home renovations that left many homes in worse shape than before. ABC 24 News first exposed problems with the HARP program last fall. Memphis leaders promised to revamp its troubled home repair program as of April 1st. Now the question is whether the city kept that promise.

According to Housing and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb, the program has been revamped; that all sounds good, until you dig a little deeper.

"When he got here he didn't do nothing," said Carrie Williams of the city-paid contractor that was supposed to repair her south Memphis home. "He did everything wrong."

She's the latest upset homeowner taking part in the HARP program.

From leaking sinks to electrical problems, bad roof repairs, and toilets that won't flush, the list of botched home repairs done by city-paid HARP contractors goes on and on.

Robert Lipscomb promised to revamp the program by April 1st, and according to him that's happened and he doesn't want to talk about it anymore.

"We've dealt with that situation and I think we've dealt with it the way we said we were going to do it, and we've told you about it. And it's over. We've dealt with that. We're not going to deal with it anymore."

The city did kick out six contractors and stopped taking new applications.

"We've shut the program down, we closed it out. We're dealing with the cases that were in the pipeline, we've told you that. We kicked out the old contractors who we felt the work was… not good. I don't know what more we can do about it."

But, there are still more than 20 projects in the works.

Lipscomb told us last winter a revamped program would include Shelby County Code Enforcement involvement on the front and back end. The extra inspections would provide extra eyes on the work.

Right now, that's not happening.

"Right now we're pretty much in limbo because I haven't heard back from the HARP folks at HCD," said Allen Medlock with Shelby County Code Enforcement.

He says he had two meeting with HARP employees in December about doing extra inspections, but hasn't heard from anyone since.

"Basically we are in the planning stage; we're waiting on the city to get back with us."

The bottom line is, there may be plans to revamp the program and some contractors have been kicked out, but for now it's still a work in progress.

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