Sunday, July 5, 2020

Fiscal board welcomes $1.7 billion disbursement from CDBG-DR Program

By on May 8, 2020

Fiscal board Chairman (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

Chairman says board, government collaboration is crucial as HUD requires funding to abide by Promesa

SAN JUAN – The Chairman of Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board, José Carrión, said the panel “welcomes the decision” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to make a $1.7 billion block of funding available from its Community Development Block Grant Disaster-Recovery Program (CDBG-DR).

“It is the first block of funding from HUD’s $8.2 billion grant agreement for Puerto Rico announced in January 2020. The Oversight Board had certified the budget for the $1.7 billion block of funding on April 14, as required by HUD,” Carrión said in a statement.

He explained that the board had also certified the action plan, which details the use of CDBG-DR funds.

The release of the latest block of funding, Carrión said, “demonstrates that the cooperation between the board and the Government of Puerto Rico can be efficient in the interest of Puerto Rico, and in full compliance with HUD’s mandate that the funding be consistent with the Certified Fiscal Plan and Certified Budget and PROMESA’s [Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act] mandate of fiscal responsibility and transparency.”

The action plan includes housing, infrastructure, economic recovery, and planning programs, and the Oversight Board’s certification of the Action Plan provides recommendations on how the programs should complement the structural reforms required in the Certified Fiscal Plan, specifically human capital and welfare reform, and ease of doing business reform.

The board recommended that the Action Plan’s Workforce Training Program should be coordinated with the Department of Economic Development and Commerce’s (DDEC) efforts to revamp workforce development programs. Further, the board recommended that the Action Plan’s Agency Planning Initiative focus on data on home and property ownership to allow the Puerto Rican Government to identify properties that are not registered on all databases, the statement adds.

Significant amounts of HUD’s recent block of funding goes to fund critical Hurricane Maria recovery activities by municipalities and non-profit organization that help community development; to fund large-scale redevelopment projects that help the recovery and growth of businesses damaged by the hurricanes and the growth of start-up businesses; and to help Puerto Rico residents buying homes.

“It is important for Puerto Rico’s recovery that the Oversight Board and the Government work together to maximize access to federal funding and to ensure the greatest possible impact on the economy and residents,” the statement reads. “Achieving PROMESA’s mandate of fiscal responsibility requires a series of bold structural reforms to improve Puerto Rico’s economic trajectory and restore growth, opportunity and prosperity to the people and businesses of Puerto Rico. The Action Plan aligns with these structural reforms in important ways.”

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