Columbia Hires New Inspector, Home Rehabilitation Program Running Smoother

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COLUMBIA - Columbia's Housing Rehabilitation Program is running more smoothly after the Planning and Development office hired a new inspector in February.

The federally-funded program, known as HOME, makes low interest loans available to low-and-moderate income property owners to make improvements to their homes.

Problems with the program were brought late last year when a housing project went wrong. Construction to make John Allen's home handicap-accessible went awry due to lack of diligence in the initial inspection.

Director of Columbia's Department of Planning and Development, Tim Teddy, said at the time,"I think the department made a fault in surveying the home from the start, not seeing some issues that sometimes hide behind walls. We will look at what happened there to avoid it happening again in the future."

Randy Cole, Community Development Coordinator, says the department hired Eric Hemple in February and reallocated responsibilities within the department. Hemple took on the responsibilities of the previous inspector as well as took over former-employee Vicki Turner's role. Turner previously held the position of housing project manager.

 The program now seems to be running smoothly.

"Last year funding went to only four houses. This year four homes are near completion and we may reach up to ten or twelve," Cole said.

Annie Gardener, a recent participant in the HOME program, says her experience with the Department of Planning and Development went smoothly.

"I was very pleased with the project in the finality sof what we were doing," said Gardener.

Gardener had work done throughout her home to make it comply with city codes, as well as some cosmetic improvements.