Nearly 5 years later, challenges persist for Houstonians trying to move back home

“Total hell, to be honest with you,” one displaced homeowner said.

HOUSTON – James Brown has had a rough go for nearly five years now and he doesn’t hold any punches when describing what it’s been like.

“Total hell, to be honest with you. I had hell with Houston, [now] I’m having hell with the state,” said Brown.

The 77-year-old is a lifelong Houstonian.

He says he knows a thing or two about Hurricanes, admitting, “I don’t usually run from them.”

In fact, prior to Hurricane Ike, he was in surgery with a “double-hernia,” and when it comes to the worst? “[Hurricane] Carla was the baddest back in my day supposedly,” said Brown.

However, none were as bad as Harvey.

The storm washed away his home in southeast Houston, and he’s been fighting ever since to get into a new one.

Brown claims he is not getting many answers from the Texas General Land Office (GLO) regarding his concerns over what he views as bad construction.

The former construction worker says he knows when a home is “a piece of crap and when it’s not,” he said.

When asked about his home in particular, he quickly responded, “Piece of crap.”

Brown says one of the reasons is how the A/C unit was placed on a dirt mound. Its foundation had already begun eroding with rainfall.

The GLO admits more dirt was added recently post-inspection, due to rain, but a spokesperson says if there is an issue in the future, the unit is under warranty.

Brown’s take? “It’s going to come down sooner or later. There is no doubt about it.”

Brown’s neighbor Liliana Martinez is also worried regarding the new GLO-built home and water potentially flowing down into her property.

KPRC 2 Investigates found multiple other GLO-built homes around the Houston area that are drastically elevated.

The GLO said “it was placed on a slab on grade foundation” and the drainage follows City of Houston code.

As for the reason Brown’s home was not raised more than three feet like others? A spokesperson says it required additional measures that were not met.

When KPRC 2 Investigates asked Brown what the whole process had been like, he made his assessment clear.

“It is slow, it is long, it’s ridiculous,” said Brown, blaming the City of Houston.

He says the City of Houston dragged their feet initially forcing him and his wife, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, to live in their old damaged home for years.

Now, their home is a Motel 6.

Brown says the GLO relocated them to the hotel back in March. However, the state’s funds will run dry next week.

The GLO says the house has been inspected and move-in ready for over a month and they are urging Brown to get in touch with them in order to move into his newly constructed home.

Brown tells KPRC 2 Investigates he is Iooking for an attorney to get his concerns properly addressed.


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