Taken for a ride? Taylorsville woman says she got ripped off by a Salt Lake County housing program

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Teena Johnson signed up for Salt Lake County’s Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. What she got was a new, leaky thermoplastic membrane roof. She points to a nail that has worked its way upward through the membrane, allowing moisture in.

Teena Johnson got a new roof on her Taylorsville home through a Salt Lake County program, but now her new roof leaks and there is a lien on her house for $16,000.

For the past 18 months, she has unsuccessfully sought redress from Salt Lake County’s Green & Healthy Homes Initiative; partner Habitat for Humanity; and a private-sector contractor, JR Remodeling.

“I didn’t have the money to get a new roof and I was worried about water damage,” she said. “Then I heard about this program and I became a victim of the program.”

Through the initiative, the county and partners hire contractors to make home repairs and upgrades. Salt Lake County pays the contractors and puts liens on houses for the work done. Homeowners pay nothing until the property is sold.

Officials from Salt Lake County, Habitat for Humanity, and the contractor all say they have tried repeatedly to resolve issues with Johnson, to no avail. On numerous occasions, the roof passed inspection, they said.

But two years after installation, abnormalities are visible. The roof that the county approved is a rubbery “membrane” that is rolled out in parallel lengths with seams where they overlap. On Johnson’s roof, some of the seams are buckling — and in various places, screws have pierced the material.

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Teena Johnson signed up for Salt Lake County’s Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. What she got was a new, leaky thermoplastic membrane roof. Close-up of edge of membrane overlap that has lifted up, allowing moisture in. The roof had many examples of this.

Now Johnson laments that she still must get a new roof, and when she sells her house, she also must pay up on the lien that helped finance the original work.

It began in 2015 when Johnson applied for the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative that aims to keep residential dwellings safe and healthy living spaces. It serves residents who earn 80 percent, or less, of the area median income.

Both said that Johnson’s roof had been inspected and that they had worked to resolve her concerns.

“We have made effort after effort after effort,” Nielsen said. “We tried to mediate with her and the contractor. That didn’t work out.”

But when Gallegos viewed recent Salt Lake Tribune photos of the roofing surface, he said that county officials would revisit the issue. If a new inspection warrants it, he said, the county would work with the contractor and manufacturer to fix the roof.

Previously, Johnson had asphalt and gravel on the roof that slopes slightly. But, she said, officials from Green & Healthy Homes would not approve asphalt and gravel and would only OK the rubberized membrane-type roof.

Three contractors bid on the project and Johnson chose JR Remodeling for the job, according to the county. But Johnson said that is not true. There was no choice, she said, and JR Remodeling got the job.

Jerry Riddle, the former owner of JR Remodeling, said there is nothing wrong with Johnson’s roof. It passed municipal inspection, he said, adding that two other contractors had looked it over and gave their approval.

Riddle said that JR Remodeling is no longer in existence. The company’s state contractor license is labeled “inactive.”

According to records from the Utah Department of Commerce, Roque Roofing was operating without a license at the time it installed Johnson’s roof. Noe Hinojosa, the former owner of the company, said he is no longer in the roofing business.

The closures of those businesses could prove problematic for the county to correct problems with Johnson’s roof. And if it was installed improperly, any warranty could be negated.

Johnson also got a new backyard fence through the program, along with several window repairs and some plumbing work in the bathroom. She said the bathtub faucet has leaked water behind the wall, causing mold.

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Teena Johnson signed up for Salt Lake County’s Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. What she got was a new, leaky thermoplastic membrane roof. She goes through photos documenting the damage after only two years with the new roof.

Nonetheless, Gallegos said the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative has been successful and has made upgrades on about 400 homes since its inception five years ago.

The program was launched in an effort to cut down on asthma and other ailments, he said. It aims to keep homes dry, clean, well-ventilated, pest-free and safe from smoke, carbon monoxide and other poisons.

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