In September 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017, appropriating $7.4 billion in CDBG-DR funding for major disasters declared within that year. The Act requires the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development  (HUD) to direct the funds to the areas most impacted by last year’s major disasters. On February 1, 2018, HUD allocated $1.5 billion of that appropriation to Puerto Rico to address the needs on the island.
Now, the department has approved the disaster recovery plan that will implement these funds in an area still struggling to recover most.
“Today, we turn an important corner in our long-term effort to rebuild hard-hit communities in Puerto Rico,” HUD Secretary Dr. Benjamin Carson, said. “This is just the beginning—billions in federal disaster recovery funding will soon be put to work and help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico rebuild their homes and their lives.”
Puerto Rico recently submitted the plan for HUD’s review, which primarily focuses on the restoration of damaged and destroyed homes, businesses, and infrastructure.
The funds will be focused and distributed in the following ways, according to the statement:
- Housing ($1 billion) – Puerto Rico is investing more than $1 billion to restore the island’s severely damaged housing stock. As part of the plan, Puerto Rico intends to provide up to $120,000 to rebuild destroyed homes for each qualified homeowner and up to $48,000 to repair each eligible damaged property. Additional housing investments include funding for rental assistance ($10,000,000), specifically for properties serving the elderly and other vulnerable households. Puerto Rico has also proposed a $36 million Home Emergency Resilience Program that provides up to $6,000 per household for individual solar appliances to help families.
- Economic Revitalization ($145 million) - Puerto Rico’s recovery plan provides $145 million for several activities to help revitalize the post-disaster economy, grants of up to $50,000 for eligible businesses. The plan also targets grants of up to small business incubators and accelerators ($10,000,000) awards of up to $2,500,000 for each eligible incubator operation, a workforce training program ($10,000,000) awards of up to $2,000,000 to train eligible Section 3 residents , and a construction and commercial revolving loan program ($35,000,000) that will provide up to $1,000,000 per loan to eligible businesses.
- Infrastructure ($100 million) - To support the repair of damaged infrastructure on the island, Puerto Rico intends to target $100 million to match federal investments through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program projects.
HUD’s Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program supports Puerto Rico’s long-term recovery and requires grantees to develop thoughtful recovery plans informed by local residents.