| West Virginia National Guard | Nov. 21, 2018
West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, addressed members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding Tuesday, providing the latest details on the progress that is being made through the RISE West Virginia program.
Among the updates, Hoyer informed members that West Virginia has officially been removed from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) “slow spender” list of grant recipients.
The state is now categorized with HUD as “on pace” in regards to spending.
“I am happy to report that we are off the 'slow spender' list.” Hoyer said. “You know, one thing about a guy who's got the responsibility with an organization to execute federal money, the last thing I want to be called is a slow spender.”
Hoyer told committee members that a total of 39 mobile home units have now been completed and turned over to their respective homeowners, including 12 that have been completed since the committee's previous meeting in September.
Additionally, RISE West Virginia's first stick-built home reconstruction project is underway in Greenbrier County and Hoyer also informed legislators that the majority of the program's housing projects are now under contracts that meet federal and state requirements.
“We've set the foundation in place for the program to go forward and take care of the citizens that need to be taken care of,” he said.
Hoyer also mentioned that state and National Guard officials in charge of the RISE WV project have partnered with Marshall University and West Virginia University to assist in expediting the completion of required environmental and legal program checks, respectively.
“Those are assets, internal to the state of West Virginia, that if we develop processes to use during emergency response and recovery, then we don't have to go out and get outside assistance,” Hoyer said. “We ought to be...building that internal professionalism and capacity within the assets we have in the state of West Virginia so that if somebody from another state comes looking to us for help, we can be that center of excellence.”
Even in light of the recent progress, Hoyer told committee members there is still much work to do, with a total of 410 homes remaining that need to be completed.
“We're on a good path, but we're still on a path where it may take us 24 months to get all these in the process,” Hoyer said. “If we have a mild winter, we'll have more stick-builts going on. We'll still have rehabs and mobile homes going in, but if it gets so cold that we can't put septic systems in, then we'll have to slow down on the others.”
“I still believe we've got 24 months of work to do on the single family housing piece with the goal of expediting that as quickly as we can,” he said.
The WVNG will provide a comprehensive update on the RISE West Virginia program on Friday.
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