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HUD announces assistance for Puerto Rico disaster survivors

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the implementation of federal disaster assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas of Puerto Rico affected by a severe storm, flooding, and landslides Feb.-6, 2022.

On March 29, President Biden issued a major disaster declaration for the municipalities of Cataño, Dorado, Toa Baja, Vega Alta, and Vega Baja.

Federal funding, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Effective immediately, HUD is:

  • Providing immediate foreclosure relief in counties covered by the major disaster declaration — HUD’s automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages commenced on the date of the Presidential major disaster declaration, and foreclosures of mortgages to Native American borrowers guaranteed under the Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee program.
  • Making mortgage insurance available — HUD’s Section 203(h) program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims whose homes were destroyed or damaged to such an extent that reconstruction or replacement is necessary, and they are facing the daunting task of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders are eligible for 100% financing, including closing costs.
  • Making insurance available for both mortgages and home rehabilitation — HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family homes.
  • Sharing information on housing providers and HUD programs – The federal agency will share information with FEMA and local government on housing providers that may have available units in the impacted counties, including public housing agencies and multi-family owners. The department will also connect FEMA and the Puerto Rico government to subject matter experts to provide information on HUD programs and providers.
  • Providing flexibility to Community Planning and Development Grantees — Recipients of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons With HIV/AIDS (HOPWA) Program, Continuum of Care (CoC) Program, Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program, HOME Program, and Housing Trust Fund (HTF) Program funds can apply for needed administrative flexibility in response to natural disasters. For more information on applying for a waiver or suspension of program requirements, contact your local Community Planning and Development Program Office here.
  • Providing flexibility to public housing agencies — Public Housing Agencies can apply for needed waivers and flexibilities for disaster relief and recovery. For detailed information on applying for a waiver, click here.
  • Ensuring HUD-approved housing counseling agencies are ready to assist — HUD-approved housing counseling agencies have counselors available to assist those impacted by natural disasters to determine assistance needs and available resources. 

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge is in Puerto Rico this week, and met with Gov. Pedro Pierluisi at La Fortaleza, to discuss recovery efforts and housing reconstruction on the island after the natural disasters, and about the use of federal funds that Puerto Rico has received.

Pierluisi also signed an Executive Order for Puerto Rico to join HUD’s House America Initiative which seeks to re-house families experiencing homelessness through a Housing First approach and develop new affordable housing utilizing the historic amount of funds provided in the American Rescue Plan.

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

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