Who is participating in the $31.6M Coastal Retrofit program? - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Are South Mississippians participating in the $31.6M Coastal Retrofit program?

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

As a result of Hurricane Katrina, the State of Mississippi qualified for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program federal funds. A total of $31.6 million has been set aside for the Coastal Retrofit Mississippi Project in three coastal counties: Harrison, Hancock and Jackson.

The designed retrofits meet or exceed all local building codes to strengthen doors, windows, the roof and attic.

The Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration is the Project Manager for the Coastal Retrofit Project. And they selected Applied Research Associates of Vicksburg to be the contractor.

An Ocean Springs resident, who wants to remain anonymous, said she paid the contractor an initial inspection fee to see if her home qualified for the Retrofit Project.

"Just to get them to come and look at our house. They were here less than an hour, and we paid them $250 for them to tell us, "Okay, fine. You can use this service. You would benefit.'"

After the home inspection, she received an estimated cost to cover all windows, replace the garage door and to replace one side door into the garage in December. When she and her husband received the estimate, they were shocked. The estimate from Coastal Retrofit Mississippi was more than $15,000. 

So the couple got a second quote from Doorways Inc. The replacement price from Doorways was $6,500 for the same exact job. Not $15,000. 

Channon Cuevas of Doorways Inc. said, "They get quotes from us and they go and get quotes from these contractors and our prices seem to be a third of the price. And they want to know why, if ours do meet, and we provide for them the documentation saying that ours meet or exceed what the requirements are."

Cuevas wants to know if the companies awarded the retrofit project were given the job with a "no bid" clause?

I contacted Kym Wiggins the Public Information Officer for the MS Department of Finance and Administration.

"Following a competitive procurement process, the Department of Finance and Administration selected the lowest and best proposer, Applied Research Associates, as its contractor for the retrofit project, who hired two sub-contractors to do the work," Wiggins said.

Cuevas says she contacted Coastal Retrofit Mississippi in hopes of becoming a vendor.

"They sent us a letter and told us to contact these contractors ourselves. We did and we have not gotten back any response about being a supplier for them."

According to the State Finance Department, Coastal Retrofit Mississippi has received:

  • 980 applications
  • 289 home inspections have been completed
  • 51 homeowners have paid their 25 percent for the cost of their projects.

But other than the pilot home, not one home has been completed.

Kym Wiggins said 2,000 homes are projected to be able to participate in the Coastal Retrofit Mississippi project. Wiggins added, with construction expected to increase, it's anticipated Applied Research Associates may require additional subcontractors and vendors. Subcontractors can contact ARA at (228) 220-0291. 

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