In the aftermath of the deadly earthquake and subsequent tremors that devastated parts of Puerto Rico last week, members of Congress and advocates pushed for HUD to release the over $16 billion in recovery and mitigation funding the agency has withheld from the territory nearly two years after it was approved by Congress. The agency has refused to release the funding in defiance of a congressionally mandated deadline requiring the agency do so by September 4, 2019.
The Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) – an NLIHC-led coalition of over 850 national, state, and local groups working in disaster recovery – released a statement calling for the administration to immediately release the withheld funding in the wake of the earthquake. “The devastation wrought by this earthquake is exactly what these funds are meant to mitigate,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC 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.”
Congressional leaders also released statements demanding the funds be released. “We call upon the White House to stop its unlawful withholding of funds from Puerto Rico,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at her weekly press conference. “There are needs that need to be met, there has been a disaster designated, but the ongoing withholding of funds appropriated by Congress to Puerto Rico is illegal.” A group of six members of Congress also sent HUD a letter calling the release of the funds “long overdue” and saying that “Puerto Rico continues to rebuild following Hurricane Maria’s devastation, and must now confront the destruction brought by yet another natural disaster.”
Democratic presidential primary candidates joined Congressional leaders in criticizing President Trump for his delay in releasing Hurricane Maria-related recovery and mitigation funding and called on the president to swiftly support recovery efforts from last week’s earthquakes on the island.
In response to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva’s (D-AZ) call for the Trump administration to release stalled mitigation and recovery aid for Puerto Rico, a HUD spokesperson said releasing the funding “without proper accountability is not going to happen.”
Read DHRC’s statement at: https://bit.ly/2Ncvsuv
Read a transcript of Speaker Pelosi’s press conference at: https://bit.ly/35BYcD3
Read the congressional letter to HUD at: https://bit.ly/37W9GCS