FY20 Spending Bill Contains Measures to Expedite Disaster Recovery in California and Puerto Rico

The FY20 spending package Congress successfully passed on December 19 and the president subsequently signed into law included two important disaster recovery measures benefiting California and Puerto Rico.  

The first measure provided over $1 billion in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to areas of California damaged by wildfires. Already experiencing a severe housing affordability crisis, California lost significant affordable housing stock in fire-ravaged communities during the 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons. These desperately needed funds have the potential to speed housing development in affected areas for the benefit of individuals displaced by the fires. 

The spending package also contains language addressing Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria. HUD has withheld – for nearly two years - Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) mitigation funding from Puerto Rico, funds that are pivotal to the island’s ability to weather future storms. Lawmakers added a provision to the FY20 spending package that prevents HUD from receiving $19 million for its Financial Transformation Initiative “until after the Secretary has published all mitigation allocations made available [under CDBG-DR for Puerto Rico]. . . .” The move comes after congressional leaders became increasingly frustrated with HUD when the agency failed to meet a September 4 statutory deadline to release the funds. Chairman David Price (D-NC), who leads the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, told Newsweek, "We're determined to show that we're serious about this and we're using the tools we have. . . If this administration is going to behave in unprecedented ways to hold up legitimate processes, we're going to have to figure out ways to influence that. It's just as simple as that."

Read the text of the measures on pages 441 and 713 of the appropriations legislation at: https://bit.ly/36sunq4

Read the Newsweek article on the ongoing delay of Puerto Rico recovery aid at: https://bit.ly/36oSmq6