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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Advocate: Affordable housing crisis requires gov’t intervention


Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. María de Lourdes Santiago, at lectern

By The Star Staff


Puerto Rico remains without affordable housing, the spokeswoman for Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, Verónica González said this week.


González said the organization receives constant complaints from individuals who are homeless, who are at risk of eviction because their rent was increased by up to 30 percent, or whose homes need repairs but the landlords refuse to perform them.


“The state has to intervene,” González said, insisting upon the importance of creating a public policy that establishes the parameters under which an eviction scenario occurs and that allows housing to be affordable.


She said the outlook is so critical that this year the cost of homes exceeded $180,000 on average, while new projects reach up to $210,000, when the average family income is between $20,000 and $22,000.


González asserted that the problem has its roots in the ease that allows non-locals to take over residential spaces.


Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. María de Lourdes Santiago Negrón charged on Wednesday that the Housing Finance Authority eliminated five structures in Puerta de Tierra that had the restriction to be used as social interest spaces, which made them accessible to citizens. The senator said the agency acknowledged that the properties, which were contaminated with asbestos, will be sold to an investor who is a beneficiary of Law 22 and who owns another 14 of the 30 occupied properties in the space.


“In Puerto Rico, 74,000 rental units are needed and among the people who are waiting for social housing, for public housing, there are 25,000 families,” Santiago Negrón said while denouncing the complicity of the central government in not serving the needs of those whose salary is not enough to rent properties worth thousands of dollars a month.


An investigative resolution has been filed in the Legislature to document the displacement of residents in Puerta de Tierra and the influence of short-term rentals and their regulation.


Santiago Negrón pointed to rent control as a regulatory step in beginning to tackle the problem.


“You have to put an end to this policy of handing everything on a silver platter to the outsider when the people here have such a difficult time,” she said.

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