CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In April 2009, West Virginia received nearly $38 million in federal stimulus funds to make the homes of needy residents more energy-efficient.
Eighteen months later, many are wondering why that weatherization aid never reached them.
Karen Hoffman, 55, got a letter last June saying she had been approved for repairs at her mobile home in Cross Lanes.
"No one has ever been here," Hoffman said.
Peggy Coleman of Cedar Grove said a weatherization crew replaced her 33-year-old furnace late last year. The crew was supposed to return to install an air conditioner.
"They just never came back," the 79-year-old widow said.
Weatherization is meant to help cut the energy bills of low-income, disabled and elderly people. Crews can install insulation, seal ducts, and tune up or replace heating and cooling systems. The U.S. Department of Energy says families can save an average of $437 a year.
The federal stimulus package pumped $5 billion into the program, but across the nation, states have failed to meet goals set when the stimulus was rolled out. They've blamed complex federal regulations and other challenges.
West Virginia officials cite the same problems, coupled with troubles at the regional anti-poverty organization Capital Resource Agency, which serves Kanawha County and surrounding areas.
Kelly Davis, acting director of the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity, acknowledged that some people have fallen through the cracks and said CRA's problems hurt the state's overall numbers. CRA also serves Boone, Clay, Fayette and Putnam counties.
Still, she said, "the feds are not unhappy with our numbers, compared to other states."
Last month, the state was selected to receive a $500,000 grant from the federal Energy Department to install high-performance hot-water systems and cool roofs throughout the state. A federal news release announcing the funds said they would be used to "expand West Virginia's successful weatherization program."
West Virginia planned to complete work on 3,000 houses between last April and this June. According to figures provided by the state, weatherization crews finished about 2,625 by late last month.
In some counties, crews have met goals, according to the state's figures, but in Kanawha County, only 93 houses had been weatherized, even though the state planned to do about 240.
In Boone County, crews finished work on 12 of 50 planned houses. Only two households had gotten help in Clay County, where the state had planned to improve 27 houses by the end of June.
The Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity contracts with more than a dozen community-action agencies to provide services funded by federal grants.
Until this year, CRA was one of them, but the South Charleston-based organization became mired in a battle with the state.
In February, the state suspended CRA's weatherization program. In April, state auditors cited the agency for shoddy weatherization work, falsified documents, missing inventory and credit card abuses.