Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico (ALPR), a member of the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC), submitted comments on the Draft Substantial Amendment to the Action Plan for the use of federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. NLIHC and 28 other DHRC member organizations endorsed ALPR’s comments, which call for increased transparency, additional public engagement, and affirmation of the right to safe and accessible housing.
The Puerto Rico Department of Housing and the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resiliency released the Draft Substantial Amendment for public comment on September 21. The draft amendment adjusts the original Action Plan to incorporate an additional allocation of $8.2 billion to address unmet needs for long-term recovery from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The additional funds come from the “Further Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act” Congress passed in February, 2018. HUD released specific allocations for the February supplemental as well as guidance for the Substantial Amendments process in the August 14, 2018, Federal Register.
The ALPR comments include recommendations to increase transparency, provide opportunities for meaningful public engagement, and prioritize the use of CDBG-DR funds to align with broader community development and long-term recovery goals. Additional recommendations include incorporating procedures for working with HUD to ensure that a new Sworn Declaration document, developed by DHRC members in collaboration with FEMA, will be accepted when title documents are unavailable, a common occurrence on the island (see Memo, 9/17). ALPR and the endorsing organizations urge the government of Puerto Rico to identify how new programs created with CDBG-DR funding can better serve low and moderate income individuals and address unmet housing needs.
The Puerto Rico Department of Housing will respond to all public comments and include comments with responses in the final version of the Substantial Amendment, which it must submit to HUD for evaluation and approval no later than November 18.
Read the ALPR comments in English at: https://bit.ly/2yIhF7z
Read the ALPR comments in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/2EMJzEL