U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has announced approval of a $1.5 billion disaster recovery plan to help citizens in Puerto Rico to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Puerto Rico recently submitted the plan for HUD’s review which primarily focuses on the restoration of damaged and destroyed homes, businesses and infrastructure.
Puerto Rico’s long-term recovery is supported 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,” said HUD Secretary Carson. “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.”
On Sept. 8, 2017, President Trump signed the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act. The Act appropriated $7.4 billion in CDBG-DR funding for major disasters declared in 2017. To distribute these funds, the Act requires HUD to direct the funds to the areas most impacted by last year’s major disasters. On Feb. 1, 2018, HUD allocated $1.5 billion of that appropriation to Puerto Rico to address the serious unmet needs on the island.
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.
To address unmet needs, 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 million) awards of up to $2.5 million for each eligible incubator operation, a workforce training program ($10 million) awards of up to $2 million to train eligible Section 3 residents, and a construction and commercial revolving loan program ($35 million) that will provide up to $1 million 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.