Washington, DC – In response to HUD’s decision – announced on August 23 in a Federal Register Notice – to continue to withhold disaster mitigation funds for Puerto Rico, the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition of more than 800 local, state and national organizations calls on Congress to hold President Trump accountable.
This announcement is the latest example of the Trump administration’s well-documented efforts to delay the arrival of Puerto Rico’s badly-needed and Congressionally-approved disaster recovery funds. Congress approved $16.5 billion in mitigation funding for Puerto Rico and other disaster-impacted states in February 2018. Because of delays, Congress directed HUD to release these mitigation funds within 90 days. Eighteen months after Congress first approved these dollars, HUD is now releasing these resources for U.S. states, but the agency is continuing to withhold funds for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Hurricane season is well under way and still more than 30,000 homes are in need of repairs from storms that hit the island nearly two years ago,” stated Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “The Trump administration’s continued efforts to withhold mitigation funds has prevented Puerto Ricans from making the investments needed to rebuild and prepare for future natural disasters. Every day of delay puts American lives at risk.”
“Puerto Rico is going through an extremely dire economic situation that existed even before the disasters of Hurricane Irma and Maria. The resilient recovery of the island will only be achieved with the disbursement and effective use of federal funds” said Carmen Villanueva-Castro, Community Liaison at FURIA, Inc. “We in civil society have been working with communities for their recovery and are ready to assume with responsibility the work still needed. The US government should immediately release these funds.”
“This Administration’s continued refusal to release money approved over eighteen months ago by Congress for Puerto Rico, shows the indifference of the federal government to the daily suffering of the disaster survivors on the island. This intentional bureaucratic stonewalling must end now,” said José Calderón, president of the Hispanic Federation. “Hispanic Federation demands that the federal government comply with the will of Congress and release the funds so desperately needed to assist in the rebuilding of Puerto Rico’s hardest-hit communities and its economy.”
“The administration would impose limitations that would make the process of disbursing about $ 8 billion from the federal program to mitigate home damage from hurricanes Irma and Maria more stringent,” said Ivis Garcia of Planners for Puerto Rico. “The mitigation planning process is occurring right now and implementation funds should be committed quickly for the recovery of Puerto Rico.”
About DHRC: NLIHC led coalition of more than 800 national, state, and local organizations, including many working directly with disaster-impacted communities and with first-hand experience recovering after disasters.