FEMA approves $554 million to renovate damaged public housing complexes
By The Star Staff
More than five years after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved $554 million to rebuild damages in some 275 public housing complexes.
Some 4,600 facilities and structures that suffered damage will be rebuilt with the allocation approved Monday. The money was delayed because of roadblocks in the inspection process to determine damages.
The federal contribution to the Public Housing Administration is added to another $109 million in disaster allocations. Aside from repairs, the latest allocation will be used for other tasks, such as asbestos and lead remediation in buildings and for basketball courts.
“This award provides an unprecedented opportunity to some of our most vulnerable survivors and disadvantaged communities that may have been disproportionately affected by Hurricane Maria,” said José Baquero, FEMA’s federal disaster recovery coordinator for Puerto Rico. “Our goal is for these funds to help reinforce the public housing infrastructure on the island so that thousands of families can recover more quickly from a future disaster.”
Due to the number of inspections and the time required to complete the cost estimates, FEMA and the Puerto Rico Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3), agreed to use a sample of affected facilities to arrive at a cost estimate in an effort to speed up the process of awarding and distributing funds.
“My administration will ensure that we use these more than half a billion dollars and all recovery funds efficiently and without delay. We want more than 59,000 families that live in the 323 public housing developments to have a better quality of life and have a robust infrastructure, as well as safe facilities that promote comprehensive development for the whole family,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said. “Through the effort made by COR3, we will continue to work together with FEMA so that we can advance the reconstruction projects.”