González-Colón and Rosselló demand federal government disburse development and relief funds

by | Feb 6, 2019 | Puerto Rico | Comments

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (NPP, R) and Governor Ricardo Rosselló (NPP, D) sent a joint communication to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), advocating for the early disbursement of Community Development Block Disability Relief funds as part of the recovery efforts for the islands in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and María.

One year after the most recent appropriation of funds in Congress under the CDBG-DR for areas affected by natural disasters in 2017 and more than six months after announcement of the second tranche of allocations by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Puerto Rico like other jurisdictions still waits to use this critical recovery funding because HUD has not published the rules governing their use in the Federal Register.

In the letter, the Resident Commissioner and the Governor urged OMB to take action to get HUD to approve and publish the rules that will define the mitigation projects for the CDBG-DR program in Puerto Rico, for which it is expected to put the next phase of the action plan of the islands’ government is underway.

“The Puerto Rico Department of Housing has made a major effort as the lead agency for administering CDBG-DR funds, providing an extensive action plan and responding to all requests and requirements to adjust and revise the document”, indicates the letter from the Puerto Rican leaders. “The plan is a valuable tool to work together with HUD to define priorities and identify the reconstruction and mitigation projects that may have the greatest impact on the communities devastated by Irma and Maria.”

The officials said that despite this, the fact that HUD has not made the official publication of the rules for the use and distribution of the funds prevents the plan from being implemented. Only then the communities throughout the islands will have the confidence that with federal agencies they will be acquiring the necessary resources to recover with greater resilience.

“The rebuilding effort for long term resiliency and stability must proceed and we need to avoid having it lose its critical momentum from a delay in the flow of grants.  The local communities have been admirably patient, but they and the local public, as well as the private institutions need the ability to plan and commit to their resources with confidence. We urge you to expedite publication of these rules.”stated the letter.

The communication from González-Colón and Rosselló adds to this week communication that Senator Ted Cruz (R) and the governor of Texas sent, making the same claim for their state with disaster approved funds.