(January 17, 2020 – Washington, D.C.) The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will soon allow Puerto Rico to access disaster aid funding for mitigation efforts after the agency released a statement will language is forthcoming in the Federal Register that outlines the requirements of how the money can be used for the island’s recovery.
On February 9, 2018, President Trump signed into law Public Law 115-123, which provides $19.9 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) money. The funding was divided into four parts: The first $1.5 billion was made available for necessary expenses related to disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, as well as economic revitalization. The second part is $8.2 billion announced through the Federal Register, but the Government of Puerto Rico is awaiting the executing of grant agreement. The third part is $8.3 billion is for mitigation purposes, which HUD will soon publish the Federal Register Notice per the agency statement. Lastly, the fourth part of the funds is $1.9 billion for the electrical grid.
“Puerto Rico has gone through three major natural disaster in the last three years. After Hurricanes Irma and María devastated the island in 2017, and now we are impacted by earthquakes that continue to strike the island. Since December 2019, the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico continue to face challenges and hardships from the earthquakes as the infrastructure, roads, and threats to health and safety are affected. Access to this CDBG-DR funding will begin to provide much-needed relief for the residents” said Jennifer M. Storipan, Esq. “However, it is important that we understand that money allocated under Public Law 115-123 can only be used for recovery from 2017 disasters, not the earthquakes of 2020.”