HOBSON CITY — A long-running and federally funded project to rehabilitate six houses in this town is at a standstill, the mayor said Monday.
The regional commission overseeing the project still needs to find contractors qualified to repair the homes, she and others involved in the work said Monday.
“Gone on too long, but I understand some of that,” Mayor Alberta McCrory said by phone. She and other town officials learned they’d been approved for the $350,000 grant that pays for the project in November 2014.
The federal Community Development Block Grant is given by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and disbursed by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. The East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission, headquartered in Anniston, administers the grant money and oversees the project.
A principal planner with the commission sent a statement by email Monday, noting a meeting in October with McCrory and architects about the project.
“We are trying to get it done as quickly as we can,” Dawn Landholm said later by phone.
Landholm’s statement noted progress toward solving a key issue — finding contractors — and said that the commission remains “committed to helping qualified applicants receive help making badly needed repairs to their homes.”
In September, Landholm said that the commission had trouble attracting qualified contractors when it sought them over several weeks earlier this year.
Some of the bids she’d received were significantly higher than the project’s budget would allow, Landholm said then. Each of the houses has been approved for $18,000 in repair work.
The commission must seek bids from contractors again, McCrory said, but that’s not been done yet. Landholm said Monday she didn’t know when that might happen.
Hobson City Town Council members did not discuss the topic during a brief meeting held Monday night, when ways to stop illegal parking along Martin Luther King Drive and a Christmas parade set for 11 a.m. Saturday dominated discussion.
To draw a greater number of potentially qualified contractors to the job, Gadsden-based architect Patricia Sherman said by phone Monday, the requirements that those contractors will need to meet have been changed.
Where the project once called for a licensed general contractor, Sherman said, it’s now open to contractors with a home builders license.
Under state law, general contractors perform construction or demolition work costing $50,000 or more. The law requires such contractors have liability insurance.
Home builders, meanwhile, do work of $10,000 or more on dwellings, and are not generally required by law to have liability insurance, according to the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board.