The San Juan Daily Star
FEMA approves $422 million for public housing renovations
Alejandro Salgado Colón, head of the Public Housing Administration
By THE STAR STAFF
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently approved some $422 million to restore and renovate 37 residential properties belonging to the Public Housing Administration (PHA) due to damage caused by Hurricane Maria. The reconstruction work will benefit over 5,400 families throughout the island.
As part of the agency’s commitment to help Puerto Rico by mitigating future damage from other disasters, the funds include nearly $165.3 million for measures that seek to strengthen the facilities.
“This is not only about removing asbestos or repairing walls and ceilings to prevent water filtration in these homes; this is also about repairing basketball courts so that children and youths can enjoy themselves,” said Andrés García, the deputy federal coordinator for disaster recovery. “This translates into sustainable recovery for these communities.”
The housing complexes are located in 20 municipalities: Aibonito, Aguadilla, Bayamón, Caguas, Camuy, Carolina, Cataño, Cidra, Fajardo, Guaynabo, Isabela, Mayagüez, Naguabo, Patillas, Ponce, Quebradillas, Río Grande, Salinas, San Juan and Trujillo Alto.
Part of the renovations at the housing facilities involve cleaning the area and removing asbestos in an effort to render healthy living spaces. Electrical boxes and exterior lighting will also be replaced to provide common areas that are safe for the entire community. The budget also considers repairs for basketball courts, such as painting the floor and replacing bird netting, drainage and lighting.
PHA Administrator Alejandro Salgado Colón stressed the impact of the allocations for the short- and long-term reconstruction of communities and Puerto Rico.
“Hand in hand with FEMA, we are working to guarantee that these budget allocations reaching more than 40 projects run smoothly and in compliance with current regulations, so that damage mitigation and repair work can materialize as soon as possible for the benefit of Puerto Rico,” he said.
One of the housing facilities with recent allocations includes the Nemesio R. Canales public housing complex in San Juan, where more than 900 families live. Nemesio R. Canales was assigned more than $49 million to repair its 65-building structure, which includes the administration building and a basketball court. The mitigation measures for this complex are estimated at nearly $14.2 million and will focus on the roof, to prevent damage from wind and rain filtration.
The funds to renovate the island’s public housing facilities are part of the agency’s recovery budget under FEMA’s Accelerated Award Strategy, known as FAASt. To date, over $446.3 million has been approved for 48 subprojects.