Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Puerto Rico House to probe disbursement of federal recovery funds

By on January 24, 2019

SAN JUAN -The chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, José González Mercado, announced the introduction of a resolution to investigate the disbursement process of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and CDBG – Disaster Recovery (CDBG – DR) funds by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the government of Puerto Rico for the island’s recovery after Hurricane María struck in September 2017.

“Our objectives with this resolution to investigate are varied, mainly to learn how the disbursement of these funds is flowing, the actions the government has taken to utilize them and the preliminary results, as well as the plans for the use of future line items that have not yet been released by the federal government and the impact that the government closure has had on the availability of those funds. It is an exercise in transparency and to explain in great detail to the people where and how these resources are being used,” the lawmaker said in a statement.

González Mercado said his committee is also interested in learning “how the reconstruction of homes is going, how advanced is the process of restoring state and municipal roads. Also, we seek to learn how the dozens of bridges damaged by the hurricane are being worked on and what is the plan for areas that have not yet been touched.”

The measure orders the Housing and Urban Development Committee, as well as the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to carry out the investigation within 180 days.

After Hurricane María, the federal government allocated, through its CDBG and CDBG-DR programs, some $18.5 billion for the reconstruction of homes and communities.

In December, HUD authorized the use of $400 million of those funds, which according to the governor’s announcement, would be used to complete residential projects for people with moderate incomes in San Juan, Caguas, Dorado, Comerío and Vega Alta. “It was also announced that the Government of Puerto Rico was ready to be authorized for additional funds,” the release reads.

“It is our position that the funds received from the federal government through the aforementioned programs must be used in a manner that represents the greatest benefit for Puerto Ricans. Our Island is annually threatened by the scourge of hurricanes for five months a year. In light of the above-mentioned, the money invested in the reconstruction should be directed mainly at the most vulnerable sectors. In consideration of the aforementioned, we must ensure that we develop housing with greater capacity to face the onslaught of a hurricane,” González Mercado stressed.

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