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HomeNewsLocal newsNew Contractor Hired to Tackle EnVIsion Tomorrow Housing Repair Backlog

New Contractor Hired to Tackle EnVIsion Tomorrow Housing Repair Backlog

Hundreds attended a town hall meeting in November 2019 on St. Thomas to learn about the V.I. Housing Finance Authority’s EnVIsion Tomorrow program to fund repairs to homes damaged in the twin Category 5 hurricanes of September 2017. The agency has hired a new contractor to help clear a backlog of residents still awaiting repairs. (Source file photo)

Relief may be on the horizon for homeowners still awaiting help through the federally funded EnVIsion Tomorrow program meant to fund repairs to properties damaged in the twin Category 5 hurricanes of September 2017.

While its EnVIsion program has seen rapid growth in activity with 44 houses under active construction and more than 70 in the design-to-rehabilitation pipeline, the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority has executed a contract with Grant Engineering and Construction Group to further expedite projects by providing supplemental manpower, Interim Executive Director Dayna Clendinen announced on Wednesday.

The EnVIsion Tomorrow program is funded by an initial $60 million CDBG-DR grant from U.S. Housing and Urban Development and is designed to assist homeowners and landlords whose properties were heavily damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria five years ago this month.

The program has been beset by delays as the authority has struggled to clear the backlog of applications in the pipeline and help existing clients complete the process.

Grant Engineering and Construction Group has personnel within the territory, experience locally in managing the evaluation, design, and construction for a range of public and private sector projects, and was found to be a responsive bidder, according to a press release announcing the contract. The total cost is $14.7 million for two years.

Among other things, the contract — which begins Wednesday — calls for Grant Engineering and Construction Group to review and approve Estimated Cost of Repair reports, conduct site visits, reassess storm damage, create scopes of work, create and review architectural drawings, and lead project closeouts, according to the release.

“Consistently, public concern has centered on the lack of progress within our Emergency Rental Assistance and EnVIsion programs, two critical pieces of our Disaster Recovery portfolio,” Clendinen said. “With the backlog of ERAP applications now eliminated and its processing streamlined, I am determined to reduce the bottlenecks within EnVIsion and bring some much-needed relief to our community.”

While based in New Jersey, 100 percent of the firm’s senior project management team is either from or resides in the territory, she said.

“This is the long-awaited piece of the puzzle in getting relief for the people we serve. To ensure success, VIHFA will take an aggressive approach to managing this contract,” Clendinen said. “As many under the EnVIsion program have been waiting months to years for resolution, there is no room for error in getting their homes rebuilt as quickly as possible.”

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