See this link for NY Times article referenced here.
Multi-million dollar contracts for Tu Hogar Renace
The program concludes at the end of 2018
Tuesday, November 27, 2018 – 11:11 AM
In just one year, the Department of Housing has granted two companies more than $214 million in contracts to work with the temporary assistance program after Hurricane María.
Fernando Gil Enseñat, Secretary of Housing, confirmed that Rising Phoenix Holdings Corporation (owner of Adjusters International) and Hage & Integra work directly with Tu Hogar Renace (Your Home Reborn) program.
With a $207 million contract, Rising Phoenix was entrusted with the repairs of minor damages in residences, through services provided by seven contractors throughout the island.
While at a 7.2 million cost, Hage & Integra was hired by Housing to supervise Rising Phoenix work as manager of Tu Hogar Renace, which is a local initiative paid with Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program (STEP) funds.
Rising’s $132,849,389 original contract has been amended three times. The second amendment, made in July 2018, added just over $74 million on the grounds that the estimated 75,000 homes to be repaired increased to 117,000.
On January 4,2018, Rising Phoenix, created in 1985 in Delaware, was registered in the Puerto Rico Department of State as a foreign corporation authorized to do business on the island. The next day the contract with Housing was signed.
Stephen T. Surace, senior vice president of Adjusters International is listed in the Department of State´s registry as the official in charge of this company.
Hage & Integra is a joint venture. The first $2.1 million contract was granted on November 29,2017, before the hiring of Rising. The contract, which expires on March 31,2019, was amended five times, according to the registry of contracts of the Office of the Comptroller. Three of those amendments totaled $5 million.
The agreements have been signed by Samir El Hage Arocho, whose local professional services corporation, Hage Consulting, also had contracts – this year– with the Department of Housing and the Public Housing Administration related to engineering and consulting services, as it appears in the registry of contracts of the Comptroller.
Yesterday, The New York Times published an article questioning the charges that Tu Hogar Renace contractors impose for the purchase of some materials, a complaint also raised on the island, including Popular representative Luis Vega Ramos, who is mentioned in the article.
The article includes testimonies of homeowners that are convinced that the price of some items or materials used in the repair of their homes was overestimated.
In reaction to the article, the Secretary of Housing rejected these allegations and defended the Tu Hogar Renace project, which he said has repaired 110,000 homes.
He stated that complaints related to the project represent less than 10 percent of the cases they have worked with.
“The use of (materials) for each home is being correctly overseeing with the program’s manager, according to the inspections of the contractor,” said Gil Enseñat.
The official said, according to that alleged oversight, that the average allocation per residence was $ 10,000 and not $ 20,000. Homeowners could receive up to $20,000 in aid.
“It’s not that we do not want to use the $20,000 per house, it’s that they did not need that. We cannot use something that the house does not need because we would be in breach of contract,” he said.
However, among the concerns publicly expressed by some homeowners is the availability of some contractors to change items without checking their damage.
The official said that the prices (of the materials) are the same for each work, regardless of which contractor did the work, because they established an average among the prices submitted by seven construction companies.