HUD announces disaster assistance for Puerto Rico
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the implementation of federal disaster assistance, including a new package of waivers offering regulatory and administrative relief, to supplement island wide and local recovery efforts in areas of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Fiona.
Effective immediately, HUD is:
- Issuing waivers that offer flexibility and relief to Commonwealth and local partners —HUD has issued a new package of 29 regulatory and administrative waivers aimed at helping Puerto Rico communities accelerate their recovery from Hurricane Fiona. This represents one of the largest collections of regulatory and administrative waivers ever issued by the Department at one time, it said.
The regulatory and administrative relief announced today covers the following HUD programs: The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program, Continuum of Care (CoC) Program, and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program. To expedite the use of these funds, HUD’s state and local partners can now access a waiver through a simplified notification process. HUD’s flexibilities include:
- Hurricane Fiona caused extensive damage and destruction to many housing units. To expedite the rebuilding process, HUD is suspending normal rules to enable CDBG grantees to replace affordable housing units that were lost because of the hurricane and flooding with new construction.
- HUD recognizes that affected citizens may require additional assistance. This flexibility will temporarily allow CDBG grantees to pay for additional support services for individuals and families affected by the remnants of the hurricane. Services could include, but not be limited to, the provision of food and bottled water, emergency shelter, case management and related services to help residents in declared-disaster areas until long-term recovery resources become available.
- HUD is also adding flexibilities that permit emergency grant payments for items such as food, clothing, housing (rent or mortgage), or utilities for up to six consecutive months.
- 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 and 90-day extensions were also automatically granted for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages when President Joe Biden confirmed a major disaster declaration. Mortgage loan servicers should be contacted for more information, the agency noted.
“Homeowners with a conventional mortgage are also strongly encouraged to contact their mortgage servicer for further information, and to see if you are eligible for relief,” the agency stated.
- 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 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 mortgage and home rehabilitation — HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program enables individuals 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 homes.
- Sharing information on housing providers and HUD programs — The agency will share information with FEMA and the central government on housing providers that may have available units in the affected areas, including Public Housing Agencies and Multi-Family owners. HUD will also connect FEMA and the central government to subject matter experts to provide information on its programs and providers, it stated.
- Providing flexibility to Public Housing Agencies — Public Housing Agencies can apply for needed waivers and flexibilities for disaster relief and recovery.
- Assisting with housing discrimination — HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is available to assist people who believe they have experienced housing discrimination.