Citibank begins Puerto Rico housing reconstruction initiative
SAN JUAN — With a contribution of $500,000 to nonprofit organizations in Puerto Rico, Citibank’s Community Development Office began an initiative to help rebuild homes and small businesses that were damaged by Hurricane Maria.
In an event held last week in Santurce’s Altos del Cabro community, Citi announced its collaboration with Puerto Rico Neighborhood Housing Service Corp., Ponce Neighborhood Housing Services Inc., PathStone and One Stop Career Center of Puerto Rico. These organizations will be responsible for both assistance with bureaucratic procedures, as well as the repairs needed.
The president & CEO of Citibank Puerto Rico, Guillermo Gómez, was emphatic that this initiative by the bank, which is nearing its 100th anniversary in Puerto Rico, responds to the understanding that the communities must be supported to achieve economic growth.
“For us to be able to help the progress of countries and generate economic growth, we have to be with the communities, and in my goals as president of the bank here in Puerto Rico, helping communities is as important as continuing to forge the business,” Gómez said.
Gómez also indicated that Citi seeks not only to provide the financial contribution, but also to help the people or small businesses. “It is very important to do this in two ways. Contributing financially, that’s the easiest part. The other thing we do is go personally…it isn’t just to put down the money and rebuild the house, but rather to be by their side.”
Moreover, he described the initiative as a “tangible investment.” So far, the goal is to help with the reconstruction of 100 homes and 85 small businesses, providing financial assistance services in general as well as help with procedures to obtain funds from insurers or government agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The organizations will also help with the physical aspect of a home’s reconstruction. In that line, One Stop Career will help provide labor. The nonprofit was formed to help retrain convicts. Individuals who received this service from this organization will be helping reconstruct the homes.
The event was also attended by Bob Annibale, global director of Citi’s Office of Community Development & Inclusive Finance. He emphasized the importance of the third sector (nonprofits) to help poor communities have access to the necessary counseling and resources to recover.
Regarding the four organizations that accompany Citi in this initiative, Annibale indicated that “all these organizations have left me with the impression that they are aligned with the community leaders.” Collaboration with the latter is also an important part, so the aid processes are fruitful.