The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico released on May 3 and May 10 their draft Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Action Plans for public comment until May 17 and May 25, respectively. In Florida, the period for public comment closed on May 4. Texas began the process first: HUD approved the state’s Action Plan related to funds allocated in 2015 and 2016 on May 1, and the state submitted to HUD a final Action Plan for new CDBG-DR funds on May 8.
The U.S. Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) released the territory’s draft CDBG-DR Action Plan on May 3 with the public comment period open until May 17. VIHFA is holding three open forum sessions — one on each island. The Plan provides $72 million for housing (including $30 million for the housing authority) of the approximately $243 million in the first CDBG-DR total allocation. With a heavier emphasis on infrastructure, economic development, and electrical grid projects in the first tranche, the second is expected to designate more for unmet housing needs - although that is still to be determined.
Puerto Rico’s Department of Housing released on May 10 its draft Action Plan for the first $1.5 billion in CDBG-DR funds, open for public comment until May 25. A Spanish version of the plan is here. Local groups have been advocating for an extended comment period and additional public hearings; Puerto Rican groups and other members of the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Puerto Rico Department of Housing Secretary Fernando Gil-Enseñat, urging them to allow for greater public input. Mr. Gil-Enseñat responded with a letter detailing the efforts his agency has taken to include public comments thus far, which he states more than fulfill the legal requirements. He asserted that additional time for public comment would further delay recovery efforts.
The public comment period for Florida’s first Action Plan closed on May 4. Numerous groups, including NLIHC on behalf of the DHRC, submitted letters with comments and recommendations on Florida’s Action Plan for $616 million in CDBG-DR funds. Many of these letters urged the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to make adjustments that ensure the lowest income households receive their fair share of resources. Read letters from eight organizations and coalitions here.
HUD has officially approved the Texas General Land Office’s first Action Plan for of $57.8 million that were part of allocations made in 2015 and 2016. The Texas GLO submitted an Action Plan to HUD for $5.024 billion in new CDBG-DR on May 8. Texas Housers submitted comments on this plan, including recommendations to improve transparency, adjust FEMA-verified loss thresholds, increase the amount for affordable housing, and provide assistance for all families.
The U.S. Virgin Islands’ CDBG-DR Action Plan open for public comment is at: https://bit.ly/2KgNsA2