HUD Ignores Deadline for the Release of Disaster Funds; FEMA Officials and Contractor Indicted for Fraud

HUD continues to delay the release of disaster mitigation funding for Puerto Rico even after the expiration of a statutory September 4 deadline set by Congress. Congress approved $16.5 billion in mitigation funding for Puerto Rico and other disaster-impacted states in February 2018. Due to excessive delays, in early June Congress gave the agency 90 days to release funding for recovery of disaster-affected states and territories. HUD has since released funding for all recipients except Puerto Rico and has provided no indication when it will do so. Meanwhile, two FEMA officials and a contractor involved in disaster recovery efforts in Puerto Rico were indicted for fraud.

HUD’s non-compliance with the congressionally mandated deadline drew strong rebukes from members of Congress. David Price (D-NC), chair of the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee stated, "If anything, Puerto Rico should [receive] a special urgency. The delay is not acceptable, and it's certainly not acceptable to single out Puerto Rico.” The House Appropriations Committee has promised to hold a hearing on HUD’s failure to meet the statutory deadline.  HUD Secretary Ben Carson has just recently stated that HUD will be seeking a financial probe of Puerto Rico’s housing department before the agency provides the recovery funding. This appears to be another in a long line of delays; it is unclear why Secretary Carson did not request this probe nineteen months ago when the funds were first appropriated.

The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) of more than 800 local, state, and national organizations issued a press release calling on Congress to hold the Trump administration accountable. “Hurricane Dorian’s recent near-miss of Puerto Rico underscores the importance of this mitigation funding,” stated Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO. “The Trump administration’s continued efforts to withhold mitigation funds is directly interfering with Puerto Rico’s ability to prepare for future storms as they continue their recovery from the 2017 hurricane season.”

On September 12, leaders from the DHRC hosted a webinar to commemorate the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria and to discuss advocacy efforts still needed to recover. Listen to this webinar at:

Also last week, two FEMA employees and the CEO of a FEMA contractor who worked on disaster recovery in Puerto Rico were indicted on charges of fraud. Among the accusations, the CEO of COBRA Acquisitions was charged with showering a FEMA regional deputy administrator with luxury gifts in exchange for the selection of his company to repair Puerto Rico’s power system. The DHRC issued a press statement calling on Congress to hold accountable the federal agencies in charge of disaster recovery, including FEMA and HUD, for failing to ensure scarce recovery funds reach those in need of assistance.

Read about congressional reaction to the delay of funding for Puerto Rico at:

Read the DHRC press statement on the delay of funding for Puerto Rico at:

Read the DHRC press statement calling on Congress to hold FEMA and HUD accountable in light of the fraud indictments at:

Listen to the DHRC webinar to commemorate the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria at: