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Governor Announces Changes to RISE WV Program

Governor Announces Changes to RISE WV Program

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)- - Governor Jim Justice is putting rumors to rest over his handling of the RISE WV program. The agency was created under the Department of Commerce to distribute federal money after the 2016 floods.

But the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, says the program distributed less than $1-million of the $150-million it's given to West Virginia.

Governor Justice says he won't let flooded West Virginians wait any longer to get the help they need.

"I'll tell you this, no living human could have done more or cares more about those flood victims then me," Governor Justice said in a press conference Monday.

The Governor has directed Major General James Hoyer to take over the RISE program, using the staff and organization of the National Guard to turn things around.

"Number one priority, identify how many people out there still have housing needs from the 2016 floods and get the process moving faster to address those needs," General Hoyer explained.

General Hoyer said he plans to use the $150-million in HUD money, as quickly as possible.

"Under the process that we've used with the VOAD system there have been 1,506 families that have signed off that they have recovered. But all that doesn't matter until we get the last family signed of," General Hoyer added.

The RISE program came under fire when Governor Justice found an improper $17-million change order by a private contractor for RISE . He hired former U.S. Attorney Mike Carey to investigate.

"It's my job to find the problems and fix them," the Governor explained.

Justice said he passed Carey's investigation off to the legislative auditor and U.S. Attorney's office, while he works to fix internal problems.

"There needs to be people replaced at commerce. There needs to be a chaning of the amounts from the Horne bill and there needs to be a replacing of one of the Horne people with a different person that would come in that would administer there," Governor Justice added.

The Governor said Horne LLP will still have a $9-10 million contract with RISE, with RISE reporting to General Hoyer. 

Governor Justice also apologized for a lack of transparency in the past few weeks about the RISE program, saying he's working to fix communication issues.

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