On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved a disaster recovery plan to help citizens in the U.S. Virgin Islands to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The approved plan for $243 million will target housing, infrastructure, and development on the island.
“Planning is critical to recovery. Today, we begin the process of putting this plan to work,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson after approving the plan. “HUD will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners on the ground to help the citizens of the U.S. Virgin Islands to recover and rebuild their homes and their lives.”
Disaster-affected areas receive funding from HUD through its Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program which requires grantees to develop a thoughtful recovery program informed by local residents.
To receive the grant, the residents of U.S. Virgin Islands identified housing, infrastructure, and economic development recovery needs that had arisen after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The state plans to use $32 million from the total funds towards the redevelopment and creation of new affordable housing, including subsidized and mixed-income rental units.
The allocated funds also include $15 million towards efforts to rehabilitate, reconstruct, and develop housing for vulnerable populations, particularly among low-income seniors and those persons and families experiencing homelessness. This program also includes the development of emergency shelters for individuals and families who cannot shelter in place during disasters. The emergency shelter housing would also serve persons who require short-term housing because they are temporarily displaced.
The program will grant $10million from the total funds towards a homeowner rehabilitation and reconstruction program for eligible residential properties that were damaged by Hurricanes Irma or Maria.
Another $10 million from the funds will be allocated towards a program designed to address post-disaster housing affordability challenges and enable renters to become homeowners. A program providing funds for the repair and replacement of damage to rental housing owned by the Virgin Islands Housing Authority, Virgin Islands Housing Finance Agency, and private landlords will be given $5 million.
“This is a great day for the U.S. Virgin Islands. HUD’s approval of our action plan marks a major milestone in our recovery," said Ken Mapp, Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands. "The approvals we received today will enable us to move forward quickly on major recovery activities across the territory including the dredging of our harbors."
The balance of the $243 million will be allocated towards rebuilding infrastructure and economic revitalization. In a statement, HUD said that in April, the agency had also allocated an additional $1.621 billion of CDBG-DR funding to the U.S. Virgin Islands for unmet need, infrastructure and mitigation purposes.
Read more about the Florida Disaster Plan approved by HUD recently: