FEMA assigns $554M+ to rehab Puerto Rico’s public housing facilities
About 275 public housing complexes representing more than 4,600 facilities and structures that suffered damage due to Hurricane María will be rebuilt with an obligation approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The federal share of more than $554 million to the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration is in addition to another $109 million in disaster funding for the local agency.
Aside from construction repairs, other activities like lead and asbestos remediation in buildings and basketball courts are addressed in the obligation, FEMA’s Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico, José Baquero, said.
“This obligation provides an unprecedented opportunity for some of our most vulnerable survivors and for underserved communities that may have been disproportionately affected by Hurricane María,” he said.
“Our goal is that these funds will help strengthen public housing infrastructure across the island so that thousands of families can recover more quickly from a future disaster,” Baquero added.
Due to the volume of inspections and the time required to finalize cost estimates, FEMA and the Puerto Rico Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, known as COR3, agreed to use a sample of the damaged facilities to arrive at a fixed cost estimate, which in turn accelerates the obligation of funds, he explained.
“My administration will ensure that we use this over $500 million and all recovery funds efficiently and without delay. We want the more than 59,000 families living in the 323 public housing projects to have a better quality of life and to have a robust infrastructure and safe facilities that promote an integral development for the whole family,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said during a news conference to announce the funding allocation.
“Through COR3’s efforts, we will continue to work with FEMA so that we can move forward with reconstruction projects,” he added.
Furthermore, the more than 4,600 buildings to be covered by these funds represent most of the Public Housing Administration’s facilities. The remaining 2,200 facilities will be processed separately with obligations for each location.
“These funds will allow us, together with the staff of the Public Housing Administration to outline strategies to streamline recovery and long-term planning efforts to build resilient housing for everyone,” said Puerto Rico Housing Secretary William Rodríguez.
As part of the conditions of this project obligation, the Public Housing Administration is required to provide FEMA and COR3 a work plan which details how the funds will be used. This plan must be submitted within 90 days of the project obligation and updated every 90 days thereafter.