Harvey victims say repair program doing more harm than good

HOUSTON – Several Houston-area homeowners say a federally funded, state-run program to provide quick temporary repairs to Harvey-damaged homes is doing more harm than good.

The Partial Repairs and Essential Power for Shelter program known as PREPS uses FEMA money for basic, temporary damage repair to make homes safe and secure while families await permanent repairs.

PREPS has completed repairs to more than 14,000 homes so far, but in some, homeowners say there are serious issues, including failure to properly muck homes, mold, improperly fitted drywall and even allegations of theft by contractors.

"They did not know what they were doing," says northeast Houston homeowner Anita Guevara who showed Channel 2 rough cut sheet rock hung in her home with gaps where there should have been a smooth seam.

Community groups like Texas Housers and West Street Recovery are now working with 25 homeowners who went through PREPS with disappointing results.

They say the state program needs more oversight, better communication with homeowners about the scope of work, and that PREPS contractors should be up to industry standards, even if it is just a temporary quick fix.

A spokesperson for the Texas General Land Office which runs the program said there had only been a few reported issues.

"This is the first time in Texas history a repair program has been offered to help survivors get back in their homes following a disaster. To date, the PREPS program has successfully provided repairs for 14,000 Texas homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey. If recipients experience an issue during the process, they are encouraged to contact the PREPS program by calling the hotline at 1-888-610-1622 or email info@prepstexasrebuilds.com to let us know so we can address the issue," said TGLO Press Secretary Brittany Eck in a statement to Channel 2 News.

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