More than two dozen members of Congress sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson on August 21 urging him to release a Federal Register notice to trigger the release of desperately needed grant funds for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).
Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Representative Darren Soto (D-FL) and 25 other Democratic lawmakers from both the House and Senate sent the letter to Secretary Carson calling for release of the notice related to Puerto Rico and USVI disaster mitigation funds from the Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. The release of $8.3 billion for Puerto Rico and $774 million for USVI has been held up by HUD, which has recently announced the agency will appoint a federal financial monitor to oversee Puerto Rico’s disaster funds.
“More than a year and a half after enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (PL 115-123), it is unconscionable that HUD has failed to publish the FRN to disburse the CDBG-DR funds needed to help mitigate the potential effects of future disasters in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” the Congressional letter says. “As we are currently in the middle of the 2019 hurricane season, this funding is more critical than ever given the extreme loss of life caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and the vulnerabilities to which Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still exposed.”
HUD released a Federal Register notice allocating nearly $6.875 billion in mitigation funding to multiple states recovering from 2015, 2016 and 2017 disasters, but not to Puerto Rico or the USVI. HUD announced in July that those funds would be dealt with separately due to HUD’s concerns regarding the islands’ capacity to administer the funds and the potential for misuse. Puerto Rico and USVI advocates have vigorously disputed that decision. The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coaliton of more than 850 organizations released a press statement on July 31 calling on Congress to hold President Trump accountable for continuously leaving Puerto Rico and the USVI behind in the recovery.
Read the Congressional letter to HUD at: https://bit.ly/2k0nHfK
Read a statement from NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition on how the continued withholding of disaster mitigation funds is directly interfering with Puerto Rico's recovery efforts: https://tinyurl.com/y52vtdsp