The RISE program has more problems | News, Sports, Jobs


Anyone who’s ever asked a child, “Why didn’t you tell me about that?” and received the response “You didn’t ask,” can sympathize with members of West Virginia’s Joint Legislative Committee, who discovered last month that RISE West Virginia was under federal investigation and implemented a corrective action plan.

State Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, was understandably frustrated when he said, “We’ve talked about this program for the last three meetings. It was never mentioned. So that’s the answer to the question, “Why was this program discontinued?” This is the subject of a federal investigation.

In fact, the program, which was put in place to make sure the state did what it was supposed to do for families affected by a flood five years ago, was judged by the US Department of Housing. and urban development as in need of corrective action. action in August. There appears to have been a lack of duplication of benefit analysis by the West Virginia National Guard, which helped administer the program.

Michelle Tharp Penaloza, director of the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program for the state’s development office, surely knew she was being somewhat dishonest when she said, “Everything we’ve found has been 100% transparent. .

In other words, they never actively hid or lied about what was going on, nor did they just tell anyone.

According to Penaloza, the program, which received $6.8 million to demolish flood-damaged properties, with $3.5 million spent on 46 projects to date, now meets all HUD requirements.

Fantastic. But the lack of communication certainly begs the question of what else we’re not being told about a program that was supposed to help families recover from a disaster that struck in 2016, and whose construction still isn’t expected to be completed until June.

Legislators should make regular inquiries and require thorough communication from program officials in the future. To be clear, this goal is not to allow the King Bureaucracy to continue serving itself, but to do good by the West Virginians who rely on it.

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