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HUD allocates $277.9 million for Hurricane Maria recovery in Puerto Rico

By on December 4, 2019

Citizen soldiers of the 190th Engineer Battalion, 101st Troop Command, Puerto Rico Army National Guard, conduct a route clearing mission on Sep. 30, 2017, in Cayey after Hurricane Maria struck the island a week earlier. (Puerto Rico Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Wilma Orozco Fanfa; VisualHunt)

Time for U.S. gov’t to disburse ‘already approved’ recovery funds, resident commissioner says

SAN JUAN — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated Tuesday more than $2.3 billion to support disaster recovery in 15 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico, which was assigned $277.9 million.

According to a press release issued by the office of Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón, she said that after great efforts to achieve the “allocation of more resources for the reconstruction of Puerto Rico” after Hurricane Maria struck in 2017, HUD “increased the amount allocated to these purposes by $277,853,230,” which is the largest allocation among the affected jurisdictions in 2017 and the highest total, at $20.22 billion, between Hurricane Irma (DR-4336) and Maria (DR-4339).

“Today, we take another important step to ensure those hardest-hit by recent disasters can fully recover,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson is quoted as saying in both HUD and the office of González Colón’s releases announcing the allocation. “The grants awarded today will help these local communities continue the recovery process of rebuilding their homes, restoring their businesses and repairing their critical infrastructure.”

The allocation is supported through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program to address “seriously damaged housing, businesses and infrastructure from disasters that occurred since 2017.” HUD says the program requires grantees to develop “thoughtful recovery plans informed by local residents ” and spend the majority of the funds in “most impacted” areas as identified by the department, which added that it will soon issue administrative guidelines.

“Every day we continue to demand the necessary attention so that the federal government assumes its responsibility to provide its citizens with the tools needed to cope with a disaster like the one that happened in Puerto Rico,” González Colón said. “I thank Secretary Carson for increasing the CDBG-DR funds for the island. Now, let’s concentrate on that the government of Puerto Rico can expeditiously complete the documents and plans necessary for HUD to disburse the funds and in the same way that the federal government leaves the bureaucracy aside and expedites the disbursement of these and other funds already approved to move forward with the recovery of the island.”

Public Law 115-254, which was approved Oct. 5, 2018, provides $1.68 billion in CDBG-DR funding for “disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization in the most impacted and distressed areas resulting from a major disaster declared in 2018.”

On June 6 Public Law 116-20 was approved. It provides $2.43 billion, including $431 million to address additional unmet infrastructure needs for 2017 disasters and $2 billion “related to disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, economic revitalization, and mitigation in the most impacted and distressed areas resulting from a major disaster that occurred in 2018 or 2019.” HUD is announcing allocations for all but $272,072,000 of the funds appropriated under 116-20. After information on all disasters in calendar year 2019 have been taken into consideration, those remaining funds will be allocated.

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