U.S. Housing Department approves a $1.5 billion Puerto Rico disaster recovery plan
SAN JUAN – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced that his agency has approved a $1.5 billion disaster recovery plan that Puerto Rico recently submitted for HUD’s review. It focuses on the restoration of homes, businesses and infrastructure that were damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“Puerto Rico’s long-term recovery is supported,” a department release reads, through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program, which “requires grantees to develop thoughtful recovery plans informed by local residents.
“Today, we turn an important corner in our long-term effort to rebuild hard-hit communities in Puerto Rico,” HUD Secretary Benjamin Carson said. “This is just the beginning – billions in federal disaster recovery funding will soon be put to work and help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico rebuild their homes and their lives.”
The new approved CDBG-DR funding comes from a Feb. 1 HUD allocation following the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017, which appropriated $7.4 billion for major disasters declared in 2017.
On April 10, HUD also allocated $18.5 billion to rebuild communities impacted by the hurricanes. The department said it “will shortly publish program rules to guide Puerto Rico and others on the use of those funds.”
CDBG-DR grants support a variety of disaster recovery activities including housing redevelopment and rebuilding, business assistance, economic revitalization, and infrastructure repair. Grantees are required to spend the majority of these recovery funds in “most impacted” areas as identified by HUD.
The identified housing, infrastructure and economic development recovery needs in Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery action plan include the following activities, as per HUD’s release:
- 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.