Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) unveiled a $146 billion recovery plan to help rebuild Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The plan includes resources to repair and replace affordable housing, including $48 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds, $687 million in public housing capital and $41 million in public housing operating funds, $47.6 million Housing Choice Vouchers, $172 million in Choice Neighborhoods grants, $20.6 million for rural home repair grants, $100 million in HOME Investment Partnerships Program dollars, $325 million in CDBG, and $250 million over 5 years for Community Development Financial Institutions.
The plan also includes $62 billion to help the debt-ridden Puerto Rican government, $51 billion for economic development, $27 billion for infrastructure, and more for education and environmental remediation. The bill prioritizes rebuilding the islands’ power grids for renewable energy.
A media release from Senator Sanders includes a summary and text of the bill. It also indicates that in addition to addressing debt relief and resilient and renewable energy, the bill would address Medicaid and Medicare parity, repair and rebuild Veterans Affairs hospitals, and improve childcare facilities and schools.
The “Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act” is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Representatives Stacy Plaskett (D-V.I.), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), and Darren Soto (D-Fla.) will introduce a companion bill in the House. The bill is endorsed by 75 organizations.