MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The WREG Problem Solvers continue to dig deeper into concerns over work done by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. The nonprofit now says it has replaced the contractor involved in several projects we’ve covered.
We reported earlier this year about issues that caused Habitat to review its processes.
Now, another client has come forward leading to more questions about one month after Mayor Lee Harris gave the nonprofit a nearly $1 million grant.
According to CEO Dwayne Spencer, Habitat’s Aging in Place program helps seniors prolong their lives and stay safe.
“Aging in place is a program meant to help older adults remain in their homes,” Spencer said.
In June, Gary Swearingen showed us issues he said were caused by Habitat contractors. An independent, licensed inspector looked at Swearingen’s home.
“He has a legitimate gripe about the quality being bad,” inspector Lloyd Allen said.
At the time, Habitat representatives would not make any updates in Swearingen’s home because he had passed his one-year warranty period.
Lula Scott also called the Problem Solvers when her new windows let in cold air. The Community Redevelopment Agency used Habitat as its contractor to help with an Uptown community revitalization program.
Our Problem Solvers investigation led to the CRA replacing all her windows.
Terilyn Blockman saw the coverage and it resonated. She got all new windows at her Windyke home through the Aging in Place program in 2019.
“I was like, ‘Yay. Now I’ll get windows that’ll lock,’” she said.
But she said the new windows still let air in and have required constant upkeep.
“There’s a gap. You can see it,” she said while showing her windows. “I can’t keep repeating and buying materials and paint and caulking and I can’t keep getting up and down off a ladder.”
She called Lloyd Allen, the inspector from our other Problem Solvers investigation.
Allen shared his report where he confirmed her concerns.
“Because of your help and Mr. Allen’s help, it helped to have them acknowledge there was a problem and they needed to do something,” Blockman said.
In an email, Habitat spokesperson Jessica Hord wrote, “The team sought feedback from a window specialist who recommended replacement… We saw the installation could’ve been done a better way.”
The Problem Solvers wanted to know how the work had passed inspection. In fact, the inspector who signed off on Blockman’s work also had a hand in other cases we covered. When we questioned Habitat CEO Spencer earlier this year, he stood behind that inspector, Phil Chamberlain.
Now Habitat officials tell us they are no longer working with Chamberlain and his company, CMCC Construction. They also said they’re using stricter protocols to choose staff that carry out Habitat work.
In a statement, Habitat representatives said,
“We have recently implemented a more stringent grading scale with the vendors we hire. In the past few months, we have parted ways with several subcontractors. We’ve also added two new third-party inspectors, and they are the only inspectors we are working with at this time. We believe it’s important to expand our entire vendor pool, which is what we’ve done and are continuing to do.”
“You highlighting this has certainly heightened our senses of paying closer attention to the quality of the work, how we do the inspection,” Spencer said earlier this year.
“I think they are probably realizing that because of your investigation and because you have brought this to the forefront,” Blockman said.
In fact, Blockman found out from us the corrective work would be covered.
“Oh that’s wonderful. That’s wonderful,” Blockman said.
Chamberlain said he had no comment.
► Got a problem? Contact WREG Problem Solver Stacy Jacobson at 901-543-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org