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Housing signs agreement with 6 towns to free up $36.4M in federal funds

The Puerto Rico Housing Department signed an agreement with mayors representing six southern towns affected by the 2020 earthquakes to allow the use of $36.4 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program funds for long-term disaster recovery.

The towns included in the signing are Guánica, Guayanilla, Lajas, Peñuelas, Ponce and Yauco, Housing Secretary William Rodríguez said.

“Through this agreement, we seek to effectively implement the funds available for the recovery of the south, by integrating the most affected municipalities in its administration and oversight,” Rodríguez said. “This is a unique and crucial opportunity for the municipalities themselves and for low-income families that still need to live under a safe roof.”

The money for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Homes Due to Earthquakes (SR2) program comes from a special allocation of CDBG-DR funds defined by Federal Register 86 FR 569, issued by the US government on Jan. 6, 2021, to cover the needs of households affected by the 2019 and 2020 earthquakes.

The Registry also identifies the municipalities of Guánica, Yauco, Guayanilla and Ponce as the most impacted and affected areas.

The six towns, which have organized themselves under the ConSur consortium, will oversee the SR2 program to help homeowners repair damaged residences or rebuild substantially damaged residences in the same location.

ConSur will now launch the execution plan, starting with identifying a project manager, Housing officials said.

“After Irma and María, we’ve been affected by seismic activity, the COVID-19 pandemic and recently Hurricane Fiona. What we’ve learned from these events, and the capacity we’ve gained by executing ongoing recovery programs, will allow us to maintain direct oversight over the appropriate use of funds, while helping the consortium manage the SR2 program,” said Maretzie Díaz, the Housing Department’s deputy secretary of Disaster Recovery.

The signing took place at the Antiguo Casino in Ponce, with participation from Ponce Mayor Luis Irizarry-Pabón, Guánica Mayor Ismael Rodríguez-Ramos; Guayanilla Mayor Raúl Rivera-Rodríguez; Lajas Mayor Jayson Martínez-Maldonado; Yauco Mayor Ángel Luis-Torres, ad Peñuelas Mayor Gregory Gonsález-Souchet.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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