ELKVIEW, W.Va. – Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding Co-Chairman Delegate Dean Jeffries, R-Kanawha, today said he was relieved to hear Gov. Jim Justice’s top attorney testify under oath that the administration will refocus grant spending on housing needs, and pledged the committee will continue its work to guarantee the administration lives up to that promise.
“It’s been nearly three years since the June 2016 floods devastated our region, yet we still have people living in campers or waiting to be reimbursed for having their houses demolished – this is unacceptable,” Chairman Jeffries said. “While I’m glad the administration has now said their top priority is to get people back into permanent housing, I expect to continue holding their feet to the fire to ensure they quickly produce results.”
The Justice administration had come under scrutiny lately after reporters uncovered documents indicating officials had decided to make infrastructure improvements a greater priority for grant funding than housing needs.
However, Brian Abraham, general counsel for Gov. Justice, testified under oath before a flooding subcommittee Monday that the administration intends to make housing needs the top priority for grant fund allocations going forward.
“I’m for the houses first,” Abraham testified.
Chairman Jeffries said he will take the administration at its word and hopes to soon see results for the people still struggling in flood-ravaged communities.
“We had people at this meeting who have been waiting close to three years for the government to live up to its promise to reimburse them for having their homes demolished,” Chairman Jeffries said. “While I understand there is a process in these grant programs, these people face significant financial struggles right now and want to get on with their lives. It’s time for the government – at all levels – to live up to its promises and get these people the help they deserve.”
The Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding will meet again Monday.