Washington, DC - Yesterday's 6.4 magnitude earthquake on the island of Puerto Rico makes even more urgent the need for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to release more than $16 billion in mitigation funding it has been withholding from the island in defiance of Congress, which approved the aid nearly two years ago.
The deadly earthquake that struck Puerto Rico in the early morning on January 7 demolished homes, destroyed infrastructure, and killed at least one individual. The quake damaged an electric plant that left the entire territory without power, and over 300,000 residents lost access to running water. Much of the infrastructure damaged by the earthquake was already in desperate need of repairs after the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Maria more than two years ago. Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez declared a state of emergency in the wake of the earthquake, as tremors continue to rattle residents and threaten more damage.
The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition of more than 850 local, state, and national organizations again calls on HUD to release the congressionally approved funding needed to ensure the island can recover from the impacts of Hurricane Maria and this earthquake and to prepare for future disasters. Congress mandated the funds be released in September of last year, but HUD has still refused to do so. Each day HUD continues to defy its legal obligation to release this critical funding puts the lives of Americans at risk.
“The devastation wrought by this earthquake is exactly what these funds are meant to mitigate,” said Diane Yentel, National Low Income Housing Coalition president and CEO. “Secretary Carson’s abhorrent decision to withhold these resources leaves the people of Puerto Rico struggling to recover and at grave risk of additional suffering when the next disaster hits, as surely it will. The administration must act immediately – it has a statutory and moral imperative to do so.”
About DHRC: NLIHC led coalition of more than 850 national, state, and local organizations, including many working directly with disaster-impacted communities and with first-hand experience recovering after disasters.