West Virginia

UPDATE: Lawmakers Demand Public Meetings on RISE

KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) - UPDATE: 6/5/18 

West Virginia Seantor Glenn Jeffries is requesting public hearings of the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding regarding the RISE WV program. 

Senator Jeffries send a letter to Governor Jim Justice, Major General James Hoyer, Senator Ed Guanch and Delegate Roger Hanshaw requesting monthly hearings.

Check out his letter here:


A spokesman for the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says HUD was not informed when RISE WV was suspended in West Virginia. The program was started to help flood victims repair their homes after the devastating 2016 floods. 

The West Virginia Press Association is reporting that the Governor's administration suspended the program after finding an irregularity in a contract with RISE WV.

"We asked the state to explain why they suspended a program that we already approved," HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan told 13 News.

RISE WV falls under the West Virginia Department of Commerce, so HUD sent a letter to Secretary Woody Thrasher asking to explain what was going on with the program. The letter states HUD had already provided about $150-million in grants to RISE WV.

Calls and emails to the Department of Commerce spokeswoman have not been returned.

Read the letter from HUD to the Department of Commerce here:

 


UPDATE: 5/23/18 5:30pm

The West Virginia Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding is calling for an investigation of RISE WV after reports that the program was suspended during an audit.

Committee Chairmans Delegate Roger Hanshaw and Senator Ed Gaunch are calling for the state Legislative Auditor to look into RISE WV. They also plan to hold hearings in the coming weeks to demand answers from the organization. Lawmakers say they were left in the dark.

"Where has money come from and where has it gone? Why has it taken 2 years to get people services? Why have people been promised services that have not been provided? Why have people been told services would be available that then were called back. We have competing answers from agencies at every level and that's just unacceptable for people who have lost homes and businesses and lives in a disaster," Delegate Roger Hanshaw told 13 News.

This comes as Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper also called for a legislative audit of the program.

The West Virginia Press Association reports an irregularity was found with a $17-million contract from RISE WV to Horne LLP. Governor Justice brought in former U.S. Attorney Mike Carey to investigate the issue, and in the end one Department of Commerce employee was fired. A coalition of state representatives also met with U.S. HUD officials in Washington D.C. in April.

WV Press Association adds that RISE WV was suspended for 8-10 weeks while Carey investigated.

Lawmakers say they are demanding answers as to how much money RISE WV has received, and how much has been distributed. They also want to know why flood victims have had to wait months for recovery money.


ORIGINAL:

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper is calling for a Legislative Audit of Horne LLP and the West Virginia RISE program. The initiative was started in the wake of the June 2016 floods in West Virginia.

"I am completely dissatisfied with the performance of Horne, LLP aka RISE WV and the efforts they have made to help the citizens of Kanawha County that were affected by the flooding that occured two years ago. These citizens deserve to be helped so they can have their homes back," Commissioner Carper said in a statement.

Carper says at least 288 Kanawha County citizens who were affected by the floods have requested assistance from RISE WV and have not been approved for assistance. The Kanawha County Planning Office has been attempting to obtain information from RISE WV regarding the applications and were told the information could not be shared with them.


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