HUD to make $1.5 billion disaster grant available to Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Thursday, the “formal execution” of a $1.5 billion grant agreement “to help citizens in Puerto Rico to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” according to a release issued by Carson’s department.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program requires grantees to develop recovery plans. The grants support such disaster recovery activities as housing redevelopment and rebuilding, business assistance, economic revitalization, and infrastructure repair. Grantees are required to spend the majority of these funds in “most impacted” areas as identified by HUD, however.
HUD said it will issue administrative guidelines “shortly for use of the funds to address grantees’ long-term recovery needs, particularly in the area of housing recovery.”
“Today, HUD and Puerto Rico are moving forward to speed recovery on the island,” said Carson. “Now that we have a framework in place, implementing Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery program can move full steam ahead.”
“We are grateful for the great working relationship we have established with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and for their continuous consideration in terms of the housing, infrastructure, and economic revitalization needs of the American citizens living in Puerto Rico,” said Rosselló. “The Island continues to recover from the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria, but with the trust and support of HUD we will definitely rebuild better and stronger than ever. The People of Puerto Rico thank Secretary Ben Carson and Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude for their committed attention to the recovery of the Island.”
Puerto Rico identified several housing, infrastructure and economic development recovery needs arising from hurricanes Irma and Maria. Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery action plan includes the following activities:
- Housing ($1 billion) – Puerto Rico is investing more than $1 billion to restore the island’s severely damaged housing stock. As part of the plan, Puerto Rico intends to provide up to $120,000 to rebuild destroyed homes for each qualified homeowner and up to $48,000 to repair each eligible damaged property. Additional housing investments include funding for rental assistance ($10,000,000), specifically for properties serving the elderly and other vulnerable households. Puerto Rico has also proposed a $36 million Home Emergency Resilience Program that provides up to $6,000 per household for individual solar appliances to help families.
- Economic Revitalization ($145 million) – Puerto Rico’s recovery plan provides $145 million for several activities to help revitalize the post-disaster economy, grants of up to $50,000 for eligible businesses. The plan also targets grants of up to small business incubators and accelerators ($10,000,000) awards of up to $2,500,000 for each eligible incubator operation, a workforce training program ($10,000,000) awards of up to $2,000,000 to train eligible Section 3 residents, and a construction and commercial revolving loan program ($35,000,000) that will provide up to $1,000,000 per loan to eligible businesses.
- Infrastructure ($100 million) – To support the repair of damaged infrastructure on the island, Puerto Rico intends to target $100 million to match federal investments through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program projects.
On Sept. 8, 2017, President Trump signed the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017. The act appropriated $7.4 billion in CDBG-DR funding for major disasters declared in 2017.
On Feb. 1, HUD allocated $1.5 billion of that appropriation to Puerto Rico to address unmet needs on the island. The action plan approved Thursday will put these funds to work.
On April 10, HUD allocated another $18.5 billion to “further support recovery in Puerto Rico and to rebuild communities impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma and to protect them from major disasters in the future. HUD will shortly publish program rules to guide Puerto Rico and others on the use of those funds,” HUD said.