The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will allocate $42.7 million in COVID-19 relief funding to help low-income Americans in Puerto Rico residing in public housing, Secretary Ben Carson announced.
The funding, made available by the CARES Act will be awarded to Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) across the nation, including Puerto Rico.
“HUD has worked hard to ensure that these funds will reach Public Housing Authorities quickly and efficiently, so they are well equipped to protect their residents and staff as we all work together as a nation to combat this invisible enemy,” said Carson.
“This funding will directly help the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration protect their residents and staff during an extraordinarily challenging time as we work together to address the COVID-19 virus,” said Denise Cleveland-Leggett, HUD Southeast Region Administrator.
The funds will be allocated through the Public Housing Operating Fund and can be used by PHAs for the following actions:
Prepare for a Coronavirus Outbreak
- Creation or update of infectious disease outbreak plan;
- Sourcing and purchasing personal protective equipment for PHA staff;
- Coordination with providers of services needed to support residents as a result of coronavirus, including cost of delivery of goods, supplies, and equipment;
- Coordination with local health service providers for activities, including: the development or provision of guidance to staff or residents, travel for testing, or other reasons related to coronavirus;
- Childcare costs for residents so that they can continue to work, and childcare costs for staff performing essential functions (as defined at the state/local), to the extent they would not have incurred otherwise; and,
- Other reasonable expenses related to preparing for the coronavirus.
Prevent a Coronavirus Outbreak
- Costs related to maintaining adequate social distancing, including modifying or limiting access to communal spaces, increasing service hours to prevent crowding in waiting areas, or any other costs incurred to ensure adequate distance among staff and residents;
- Costs of delivering supplies so that staff or residents can shelter in place, thereby reducing exposure to the greatest number of people;
- Direct costs related to limiting the spread of the coronavirus, including travel costs for testing, or other preventive health measures related to coronavirus;
- Expenses of isolating people suspected of being exposed or those at high-risk of serious complications if infected (e.g., elderly residents, and residents with underlying conditions);
- Costs of protecting residents (particularly high-risk residents) from exposure from interaction with PHA staff and vice versa; and,
- Payment of salaries of PHA staff unable to work because of the coronavirus public health restrictions (e.g., office management staff who cannot go into the office and cannot perform work remotely, or payment of full salaries of PHA staff forced to work part-time because of lack of childcare).
Respond to a Coronavirus Outbreak
- Expenses of caring for PHA staff and residents who have tested positive, but do not require immediate hospitalization, including:
- Payment for increases in sick leave allowances for PHA staff;
- Physical, personnel, or security costs incurred to limit movement;
- Costs to safely transport residents that tested positive to a quarantine facility; and,
- Costs of supporting residents in quarantine such as health-related supplies (e.g., masks and cleaning supplies).
- Expenses to safely transport residents/staff in need of medical attention;
- Expenses incurred because of coronavirus restrictions impacting PHA operations (e.g., paying for transportation expenses for PHA staff who rely on public transit that is no longer available);
- Costs to facilitate and coordinate with local schools and local governments receiving funds from the Department of Education for the education of students in public housing households:
- Internet connection infrastructure; and
- Tablets or other low-cost computers for students.
- Other reasonable expenses incurred while responding to the coronavirus.