ReBuild NC’s modular home program still faltering; hurricane survivors now receiving different housing types

A modular home being elevated as part of the ReBuild program. This photo was taken last summer. (Photo: Lisa Sorg)

ReBuild NC’s highly touted modular home program, which state officials have claimed would be the fastest way to get hurricane survivors out of motels and into permanent housing, continues to falter, according to state data.

Numbers provided by ReBuild NC to Policy Watch this week show that Rescue Construction Solutions has built 20 modular homes since winning a $52 million contract in August 2021. 

That is less than 10 percent of the 226 modulars in the bid package.

Rescue, based in Raleigh, has been paid $32 million so far, which includes the modulars and 177 new or renovated stick-built houses, state data shows.

However, the recent figures are an improvement over December, when ReBuild NC Director Laura Hogshead told state lawmakers that just 11 modulars had been built. She has attributed the low numbers to backlogs at the modular factories and county permitting issues.

Several homeowners have told Policy Watch, and posted on the ReBuild NC Applicant Facebook page, that they were no longer receiving modulars, ostensibly because of ongoing delays. Instead, their contracts were being converted to traditional “stick-built” homes.

There are 55 facilities that build modular homes in the Southeast, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute. Of those, five North Carolina factories built 4,496 homes in 2021, MHI data shows. 

According to federal census data, 6,129 modulars were shipped to North Carolina in 2021, the year Rescue won the contract.

ReBuild NC, also known as the Office of Recovery and Resiliency, has been awarded $800 million in federal funding to help survivors of the 2016 disaster, Hurricane Matthew, and the historic 2018 storm, Hurricane Florence, return home. An estimated 4,100 households have applied for new or repaired homes under the ReBuild NC program.

Instead hundreds of households, equivalent to thousands of people, still live in motels or in their dilapidated houses, years after the funding became available.

ReBuild NC is under legislative and public scrutiny over mismanagement of its disaster recovery program. An investigative series by Policy Watch about the program’s failures spurred state lawmakers last fall to form a special oversight committee to monitor ReBuild NC’s performance. There have been several shakeups within the agency since then. Last November, Ivan Duncan, chief program delivery officer and a subject of Policy Watch’s investigation, abruptly resigned.

On Feb. 1, Richard Trumper, who had led a successful disaster relief program for the state Office of State Budget and Management, became a senior advisor to help fix ReBuild NC. The agency is under the Department of Public Safety; Trumper reports directly to DPS Secretary Eddie Buffaloe.

Other data provided by ReBuild NC shows some progress in homebuilding and repairs since December.

The figures below show the number of homes built under the ReBuild NC program since May 2022.*

Homes completed as of Feb. 20 — 735
As of Dec. 14 — 688
Sept. 16 — 588
May 9 — 516

*Robeson County built another 201 homes in 2018 and 2019 with federal funding. ReBuild NC absorbed that county-led program in early 2020, and often takes credit for those homes even though it was uninvolved in the contracting and construction.

Below is a table of ReBuild contractors, the amount paid so far, and the total number of homes built or renovated. Three firms, indicated by an asterisk, don’t build homes; they are responsible for removing asbestos and lead contamination.

ContractorTotal Construction PaymentsNumber of Homes Built or Renovated
CRSC, LLC$8,783,905.78 102
Currituck Homes$231,630.80 1
DSW Homes$452,544.88 18
Ducky Recovery$3,839,830.99 65
Eastern Environmental*$62,518.25
Excel Contractors$7,836,082.55 94
Family Housing Center of NC$2,691,859.76 12
Fam-Lock Construction$1,042,092.46 28
First Time Around$39,952.53 2
Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders$1,064,551.74 38
G&N Construction and Remodeling $444,587.83 6
Heath and Sons Management Services$64,405.63 4
Jeffery Locklear$180,411.71 17
Kevin K Jacobs General Contracting$114,482.93 9
L & E Management Services$34,179.69 2
Lady Built Construction$464,683.12 18
Opportunities Industrialization Center$47,772.63 2
Persons Service Company$7,892,103.17 121
Prevatte's Home Sales $845,501.69 13
Rescue Construction Solutions$32,653,596.65 197
RHD Property $270,860.76 6
Shepherd Response$16,391,001.01 54
Steven Stone Mobile Homes$1,297,943.62 16
Thompson Construction Group$8,565,282.27 104
Timberline Construction Group$3,101,501.87 7
Grand Total$99,019,197.24 936


Meanwhile, the House Disaster Recovery and Homeland Security committee will discuss a bill specific to ReBuild NC’s  contracting problems today at 1 p.m.

House Bill 119 would allow ReBuild NC, to use an informal bid process for projects costing up to $250,000. The previous figure was $30,000.

Lawmakers hope this will allow ReBuild NC to more quickly recruit contractors, and in turn more quickly build or repair hurricane-damaged homes. Late last year ReBuild NC had less than a half dozen contractors; it now has 27, including those that do asbestos and lead abatement, according to the most recent state data.

The informal bid process still requires that “all such contracts shall be awarded to the lowest responsible, responsive bidder, taking into consideration quality, performance, and the time specified in the bids for the performance of the contract.” 

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ReBuild NC’s modular home program still faltering; hurricane survivors now receiving different housing types