(03/19/2019)
By Bob Weaver

3/5/2019 - The Federal Housing and Urban Development has declined to respond to a Calhoun Commission request in December, 2019, requesting an investigation and audit of alleged problems at Calhoun Homes, following the discovery of meth residue in a number of apartments, displacement of residents and complaints regarding management.

HUD has advised the commission they should contact Manager Michelle Smith and Board President Judy Wolfram regarding any issues related to Calhoun Homes.

"It is very unfortunate that HUD is trying to turn their heads instead of at least checking the situation out. All taxpayers should be upset to know HUD is basically "kicking the can down the road." Every person deserves to be heard," said Commission President Kevin Helmick.

The Commission was approached by several concerned individuals regarding the financial management and possible misuse of housing funds, and conducted a public hearing.

Manager Michelle Smith declined to attend the hearing, and has declined to answer Hur Herald phone calls and a hand-delivered list of public information questions regarding how the meth problem was being remediated.

Smith did respond by saying Calhoun Homes was a private business, indicating they are not subject to public information laws, although the project is largely funded by federal Housing and Urban Development funds.

She said numerous times, "This is my place," further declining to supply the names of board members, but indicating she would release information to the Calhoun Chronicle.

When the meth problem was first discovered, Smith called the police requesting that the Hur Herald be arrested or removed while on the street of the public housing project to cover the story.

Reportedly, some changes are being made with the Calhoun Homes board, which has had only three active members instead of five for an extended period.

COMMISSION LETTER TO HUD

December 19, 2018

Julie A. Alston
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Charleston, WV 25301

Dear Director Alston:

The Calhoun County Commission is writing to express concerns regarding Calhoun Homes, Incorporated, a non-profit housing corporation and a HUD subsidized family housing complex in Calhoun County, West Virginia.

Recently, an exterminator from Orkin was inspecting the complex and discovered a large amount of drug paraphernalia in one of the apartments.

After this discovery, the management of Calhoun Homes, Inc. purportedly had the apartments tested for methamphetamine, and it was discovered that the manufacturing of methamphetamine in a select number of apartments had also contaminated adjoining apartments.

As a result of the test results, many tenants, including families with children, were ordered to vacate their apartments and dispose of all their contaminated personal property and place remaining property in storage units until the apartments were remediated of the harmful effects from methamphetamine.

Although some of the apartments have reportedly been renovated and "cleansed" of methamphetamine residue, tenants have not received any copies of subsequent testing showing that the apartments are safe for tenant occupancy.

Therefore, the Calhoun County Commission requests that all methamphetamine residue testing results be released to the affected tenants and provided to the County Commission, as well as information be provided to tenants instructing them how they can be compensated for expenses that they incurred while being displaced from their homes, such as temporary housing and storage fees for personal belongings.

Further, during this process, the Calhoun County Commission was approached by several concerned individuals regarding the financial management and possible misuse or impropriety of housing funds. In light of the above discussed occurrences of negligent management of Calhoun Homes, Inc., the Calhoun County Commission further formally requests that a complete financial audit be completed of the financial records of Calhoun Homes, Inc.

Please let us know if we can be of assistance as you address the above-stated issues.

Sincerely,
Kevin Helmick,
Commission President

Chip Westfall, Michael Hicks

RESPONSE FROM HUD

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Charleston Field Office 414 Summers Street, Suite 110 Charleston, West Virginia 25301

January 29, 2019

Mr. Kevin Helmick, Commission President
Calhoun County Commission
P.O. Box 230 Grantsville, West Virginia 26147

Dear Commissioner Helmick:

Thank you for your letter dated December 19, 2018 regarding Calhoun Homes, Inc. I apologize for the delay in responding, due to a lapse in appropriation and partial government shutdown, the Charleston HUD Field Office was closed and just reopened on January 28, 2019.

In speaking with the HUD Multi-Family Account Executive for this property, you will need to contact the property manager for this information. They can be reached at: Michele Smith Manager 125 Calhoun Drive Mt, Zion, WV 26151, 304-354-6884 Email: Mishi@frontier.net. Judy Wolfram Board President 325 Kelly Road Five Forks, WV 26136.

I have shared your concerns with the HUD Multi-Family staff, and they will continue to monitor this property for compliance with Federal rules and regulations governing the funding.

Thank you for your commitment to further safe, affordable housing in your area. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Julie Alston U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Field Office Director.

METH RESIDUE CHILLING REVELATION AT CALHOUN HOMES - Manager Denies Public Information Requests, Hearing Monday Before Calhoun Commission

Dec. 2018 By Bob Weaver

It was a chilling revelation that a Calhoun public housing development in late October had meth making or use infiltrating up to nine apartments, readings that indicated those apartments would be considered a health risk for current residents.

Calhoun Homes manager Michelle Smith declined to answer phone calls and a hand-delivered list of questions regarding how the problem has been remediated.

Smith did respond by saying Calhoun Homes was a private business, indicating they are not subject to public information laws, although the project is largely funded by federal Housing and Urban Development funds.

Smith said numerous times, "This is my place," further declining to supply the names of board members, but indicating she would release information to the Calhoun Chronicle.

An item on the Calhoun Commission agenda for Monday, Dec. 17 at 9 a.m. at the county courthouse, indicates there is a hearing about the matter. Affected tenants are encouraged to attend the meeting.

During an earlier effort to cover the meth problem and how it was affecting residences, Smith ordered the Herald off the property and called police, reiterating it was her place.

Smith said her police request for removal was over photography and not for trespassing, from the public street.

At least seven of the residents were asked to vacate their dwellings so they could be professionally cleaned. It appeared that most of the residents, including several single-parenting mothers, had to find temporary residences, some having their belongings stored in a box trailer provided by Calhoun Homes on about November 2nd.

While the temporary displacement was reported to take approximately 1 1/2 weeks, the displacement has continued for about five weeks, but reports indicate that some of the families could be moving back this weekend.

The displacement costs have essentially been borne by the residents.

It was reported that a professional company doing the remediation of the apartments through some kind of steam cleaning, has resulted in laminate floors in the apartments coming up and requiring replacement.

Another question left unanswered by Manager Smith was, if the displaced tenants are required to pay the electric bill for their residence in the over one month they have been out of their homes. One tenant reported to the Herald that her most recent bill was double what it normally is on a monthly basis.

See original story CALHOUN HOMES FILES TRESPASSING COMPLAINT AGAINST HUR HERALD - Herald Reporting On Meth Residue Problems, Relocation Of Residents


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