Housing Dept. unveils $39M Municipal Revitalization Program for P.R. towns
The Puerto Rico Housing Department announced the start of the Municipal Revitalization Program that has allocated $39 million to create a plan that will lead to the development of more resilient communities in Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities.
Housing Secretary Fernando Gil-Enseñat said “through this program, direct funds will be allocated to all municipalities to develop a recovery plan in response to Hurricanes Irma and María. This plan will strategically position all municipalities to receive funds from other Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG–DR) Programs, such as the City Revitalization program.
Through the Revitalization Plan, a list will be created of priority projects that will help the city in its recovery. The funds allocated to municipalities under this program must be used only to develop the plan — not for construction projects, he said.
Once the planning process is completed, construction and implementation of projects should be requested through other available funds, Gil-Enseñat explained.
To ensure that each municipality was allocated sufficient funds to secure a planning vendor to develop their Recovery Plan, the Housing Department determined a base allocation of $250,000 per municipality. The base allocation is the same for each municipality.
Additional resources were assigned using a formula that considers various criteria: municipal population; municipal real property damage assessment; municipal total area; the municipal water area; and the municipal coastline.
For example, the town of San Juan received more than $1.3 million, Caguas and Ponce each received a little more than $1 million, while the coastal town of Cataño received $368,524, according to Housing Department data.
“The program will take a collaborative approach to identify key problems and solutions regarding local recovery, mitigation and resilience,” Gil-Enseñat said.
“It will work in direct coordination with each municipality and the planning process will be led by a planning firm or service provider,” he said.
In recent weeks, Housing Department staff has received in its offices municipal executives to provide technical support and specific guidance on this program.
“We recommend that all municipalities participate in the MRP program because, to access the second and third round of the City Revitalization Program, municipalities must have undergone the same process,” Gil-Enseñat said.
The Municipal Revitalization Program is subsidized with funds from the CDBG-DR program assigned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.