'I’m fed up with it’: Brevard County woman says repairs paid by taxpayer-fund made home worse

A Brevard County woman is begging for help to repair her home after she says work paid for through a taxpayer-funded home renovation program made her house worse.

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A Brevard County woman is begging for help to repair her home after she says work paid for through a taxpayer-funded home renovation program made her house worse.

Channel 9′s Karla Ray took a look at the damage and found out why Melbourne city leaders say, even though they manage the program, there’s nothing they can do.

In the home where her family members have lived since the 1970s, Mary Threets was in need of some upgrades. Particularly, she wanted upgrades to the home’s main bathroom to make it more safe for her mentally and physically challenged brother.

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“My brother Joe is very unsteady on his feet,” Threets said. “I was having a problem getting him in and out of the bathtub that was in there. The bathtub had a problem, but it was usable.”

Just a few years after the tub was replaced with tile, the tiles are lifting and twisting right off the floor.

“I’m fed up with it. It’s horrible, it’s dangerous, is what it is,” Threets said.

Records show the work was done in 2014 through the city of Melbourne’s Homeowner Housing Rehabilitation Program, funded through the State Housing Initiative Partnership.

The program allows low-income homeowners to apply for money to fix up their homes. In the last six years, Melbourne has paid out more than $1.2 million to contractors to upgrade 25 homes. The work done at Threet’s home was around $55,000.

“I wouldn’t expect that kind of work from anybody who does tile work, because tile and bathrooms last 20, 30, 40 years,” Threets said. “You change your bathroom because you’ve got a pink tub, not because the tiles are coming off the wall."

We asked Melbourne leaders about the damage, and a spokesperson told 9 Investigates by email that by the time the issues started, the contractor warranty had passed.

“While we really try to help housing rehabilitation participants, the contract that was signed was between the property owner and the contractor,” Cheryl Mall said on behalf of the city. “All bids go through a bidding process and are selected and hired by the property owner. The City only acts as the liaison in this process.”

Threets said her attempts to contact the contractor directly have been unsuccessful. 9 Investigates tried several numbers for the company, but none were active.

“Frankly, I would love to have my bathrooms fixed. I would love to be able to go to the bathroom without worrying about my brother tripping and falling and killing himself. It’s just not up to standard, that’s all I can tell you,” Threets said.

City leaders confirm they’ve received other complaints from homeowners on work done through this program, but they didn’t have records to show which contractors did the work in those cases.

Mall provided this statement on behalf of the city of Melbourne:

“The City of Melbourne takes great interest and care in the work being done using public funds that help low income people rehabilitate and stay in their homes. We require all contracts that the homeowner signs with the contractor to have a one-year warranty for all work. We have a dedicated housing inspector who monitors each project as it is underway. We check project receipts and conduct periodic inspections as the work is being done. In addition to the housing inspector, the Building Division performs all inspections throughout the project as required under the Florida Building Code and completes a final inspection prior to a certificate of completion for the completed renovation work. Most homeowners do not have the benefit of having two different inspectors confirm their work. In addition, we help homeowners who find issues with the work during the one-year warranty period to be sure the contractor fulfills the terms of the warranty.”