Lack of approved contractors delays approved repairs on hundreds of homes

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – One of the big issues for the Rochester mayor is housing. He wants to tear down the dangerous ones and he wants to help fix the good ones.

But News10NBC is exposing a supply problem that is delaying those repairs sometimes by more than a year.

Kelvin Alston showed Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean the problems with his childhood home just off Hudson Avenue.

“This right here,” he said as the screen door wouldn’t open and the step wiggled.

This was his mother’s first house and she still lives here by herself. The house is in good shape but needs repairs to the gutters and the siding and the stairs.

“When you get right here you can feel the weakness in the wood,” he said walking up the stairs inside the house. “For my mother who sits in that chair right there. And this is how she gets around (holding cane), that’s where the city’s got to do more.”

Alston’s mother applied for money through the City’s housing rehabilitation and repair program. Alston showed me the approved letter. It’s from May of last year.

“And then I’m asking people now – can you give me a timetable? A window? And all I’m getting is – we’ll get back to you,” he said.

City Hall says Alston’s mother’s home is approved and the project is moving to the next phase and they appreciate the family’s patience. But there is an issue.

The website says the project is “currently not available.” The city says there is a shortage of contractors to do the work. The list of approved contractors for the city is 13.

“As I noted previously, the program is behind simply because there are not enough people to do the work,” wrote Barbara Pierce, spokeswoman for the mayor.

Brean: “So what would this money and these repairs mean to your mom and you?
Alston: “My mother is elderly. There is work that needs to be done and I need for the city to pretty much step up what they need to do.”

The mayor’s office says its advertised for contractors but haven’t been able to find them. The City says it’s done almost 300 projects for $6 million and there are 348 approved. 140 are in the same queue of  Alston’s mother’s house.

Pierce promised if the project is approved the work will get done, it’s just taking longer.