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FEMA grants $79M to support code enforcement in P.R.

Puerto Rico is updating its building code and will use a $79 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to improve enforcement, the agency stated.

The grant to the Puerto Rico Planning Board and the Office of Permits Management will increase the number of compliance officials from 11 to 274.

“The recovery process of Puerto Rico will need capital and skilled workers to perform all sorts of jobs.  These funds come in an important moment because they allow us to increase critical staff that will help us handle the amount of work that needs to be completed as we build a new Puerto Rico,” said Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

“The reconstruction of the Puerto Rico that we have envisioned, has to ensure that we eliminate all structural vulnerabilities in lieu of other atmospheric events that we might encounter.  Have the necessary resources at this juncture is essential.”

The grant will enable investment in technologies that support code enforcement.  It will also support training and outreach programs to communities.

Government agencies will be able to improve the ways they share data relating to code enforcement and compliance. An increased number of trained experts at the agencies will help create a more resilient future for Puerto Rico.

The grant also leverages measures being taken in Puerto Rico to update the building code.  Funding from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program is helping Puerto Rico make these updates.  The Puerto Rico Building Code was last updated in 2011.  A new law was signed by the Governor in July requiring that the building code be updated every three years.

The Office of Permits Management began revising the Puerto Rico Building Code in February alongside experts and representatives from government agencies, the private sector, and academia.  The update is projected to be adopted in September and published in December.

“Puerto Rico is going to be safer and stronger because of a stronger code and enforcement,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Byrne, who is leading the federal recovery effort.

“This grant will help the island for decades,” Byrne said.

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