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USDA Rural chief: ‘It’s time for contractors who left Puerto Rico to come back’

Trujillo-Ortega participated in the Puerto Rican Summit XIII in Orlando.

Maximiliano J. Trujillo-Ortega, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s state director for Puerto Rico, recently spoke at the Puerto Rican Summit XIII in Orlando, Florida, where he urged contractors and construction workers who left the island after hurricanes María and Fiona to “consider coming back to contribute for the recovery of the island.”

“Puerto Rico needs contractors to build new homes,” he added. “And with the Biden-Harris administration, which has made unprecedented levels of federal funding available to Puerto Rico for resilience, recovery, infrastructure and economic growth, this has created a historic opportunity for Puerto Rico to make transformative change on the island.”

USDA has made changes to the Rural Housing Program, making it easier to apply, he said.

“We have a new income eligibility that will allow a one-to-four-person household with an income of $39,550 or a five-to-eight-person household with an income of $52,200 to apply to our programs across the island,” he added.

He also mentioned several programs available to help people buy housing on the island:

– Rural Home Loans, known as RH 502 Direct Loan Program, help low- and very-low-income applicants buy decent, safe and sanitary housing in eligible rural areas by providing loans and payment assistance to increase their repayment ability.

– Rural Disaster Home Repair Grant Program: Provides repair grants for homes impacted by a natural disaster and in an area designated as a Presidentially Declared Disaster, such as Fiona. This program can provide a grant up-to $42,920 if they meet low-income eligibility and other conditions.

“For the Single-Family Housing Rural Disaster Home Repair Grant Program, we have already obligated $2.2 million, and we seek to help more homeowners who have not been able yet been able to repair damages caused by Fiona. The National Office still has an allocation of $36 million available nationwide.” said Trujillo-Ortega.

“We need contractors and construction workers to help rebuild our housing in the archipelago. The Biden-Harris Administration has provided the funds; we need our people to come to the island and be part of the reconstruction process,” he added.

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

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