10:00am: Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval

Seven homes now complete after two years of long-term flood recovery

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Rise West Virginia program has completed seven homes during the two years after hundreds of West Virginians lost their homes in devastating floods.

That’s the bottom line in an update today by Adjutant Gen. James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard.

West Virginia’s long-term flood recovery program has been beset by delays and frustration. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which approved the state’s use of $149 million in disaster relief grants on Feb. 20, continues to label the state a slow spender.

HUD has labeled West Virginia a slow spender at the beginning of July, June, May and April.

On June 4, after simmering controversy over the way West Virginia had handled long-term flood relief, Governor Justice promised improvement.

“The next statement is, we know now where the problems were and we’re going to fix it in a way that things move at light speed compared to how they’re moving before,” Justice said.

The governor concluded his news conference that day by saying, “Give us a month. Give us a month and find out what happens.”

A report released last month by the Legislative Auditor said it wasn’t clear that West Virginia’s efforts had resulted in anyone receiving full assistance from the Rise West Virginia flood recovery program as of June 1.

That drew a sharp rebuke from the Governor’s Office, which released a statement saying “Legislative Auditor is wrong on Rise.”

In that statement, the governor said “As of today, 18 families have been handed keys to new homes.” It went on to allege that the Legislative Auditor’s report relied on old information.

Back on May 6, the governor issued a statement that said “Governor Justice makes good on RISE promise; program running again, families getting keys to new homes.” That statement alluded to six families receiving keys to new homes.

Today, the latest report said only seven families have received homes.

“The number of outstanding cases has decreased from 448 to 441 with seven cases having been completed,” according to Hoyer’s report.

Of those, Hoyer said, 126 cases require total reconstruction.

Another 104 cases require some form of rehabilitation.

Seventy-one cases require placement of a new mobile home unit.

And 140 cases have undefined needs and are currently in the review process.

When the West Virginia’s Action Plan for long-term relief was approved by HUD, state officials estimated about 1,000 housing units were needed.

But many needs wound up being met by nonprofits and faith-based organizations while the state was still trying to figure out how to get going with the federal funds.

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