Foundation for Puerto Rico has signed an agreement with the Department of Housing to lead the coordination of the Whole Community Resilience Planning Program, the nonprofit announced.
As part of the first phase, FPR is building a multisectoral working group that will include key government, community, non-government and nonprofit organizations in Puerto Rico that have the knowledge and experience in the different focus areas of the program, specifically: housing, health and environment, education, infrastructure and economic development.
The Multisectoral Working Group will collaborate with communities on developing resilience plans to prevent, prepare and handle emergency situations, including natural disasters.
Housing assigned $37.5 million for the program from the funding allocation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery.
Puerto Rico Housing Secretary Fernando Gil Enseñat said the allocation of funds follows approval of the Action Plan by the Housing Department and HUD to fund activities and programs aimed at recovery, and that benefit Communities affected by the Hurricanes Irma and María.
“These working group partnerships are crucial to achieving a more comprehensive and inclusive process, and will result in higher quality and sustainable plans,” said Annie Mayol, President of FPR.
“We’re excited to continue to carry out projects driven by collaborations with partners, including government, private sector, third sector, communities and individuals for the economic and social development of Puerto Rico,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nelson Colón-Tarrats, president of the Puerto Rico Community Foundation, said”we have seen how many communities, with the support of community-based organizations, were able to cope with the ravages that [Hurricane] Maria left.”
“With this collaborative planning process, we will lay the foundations for continuing to strengthen communities in a participatory way, enabling their own development. We hope that this collaborative platform will allow a process conducive to action with agility and speed,” he said.
The first phase will focus on collecting and publishing the data needed to determine and inform communities about their existing situation and vulnerability in areas such as housing, economic development, education, infrastructure, environment and health.
The second phase will consist of the publication of the Notification of Availability of Funds (known as NOFA). This document will describe the participation parameters for communities, and the selection criteria to receive funds for the development of their plans.
“We have served and will continue to serve as a liaison, especially after Hurricane Maria, to support communities around the island so they can have access to updated and reliable data, in addition to information to create their own plans with the financing and necessary tools that will allow them to prepare, mitigate risks, quickly manage, and recover from emergencies, including natural disasters,” said Maria Jaunarena, executive vice president of FPR.
The signed agreement puts the Whole Community Resilience Program into action as part of the broader initiatives around the recovery of the island.
“Through this agreement, we will work directly on the development of a comprehensive plan that benefits the communities affected by Hurricanes Irma and María. In turn, it will allow eligible communities to develop planning and management policies to streamline housing and infrastructure repair, as well as revitalize the economy,” said Gil-Enseñat.