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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA assigns $1.9 million for renovation of Family Dept. headquarters

Family Secretary Carmen Ana González Magaz

By John McPhaul

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved more than $1.9 million to the island Family Department for permanent construction work in its central offices on Barbosa Avenue in Hato Rey and regional offices in 15 municipalities.

Some of the most significant work at the Family Department’s central office is the cleaning, decontamination and archiving, as well as the removal and replacement of contents in the agency’s administrative area, for which FEMA obligated over $1.1 million.

“This obligation of funds results in the benefit of thousands of participants who visit the [Family Department]’s facilities to get assistance for the programs offered by the Agency,” said José G. Baquero, the FEMA’s federal disaster recovery coordinator in Puerto Rico.

The Family Department is the umbrella agency in charge of providing social services programs in Puerto Rico. These include food support through the Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN by its Spanish acronym) to approximately 870,000 families, administering Head Start, Early Head Start and Childcare funds, assisting low-income families and ensuring the livelihood and well being of children and the elderly through various other programs.

“These allocations have a positive impact on the reach of the services directed toward accomplishing better and more effective participation, equity and social justice in the affected regions,” Family Secretary Carmen Ana González Magaz said.

Likewise, the Arecibo region of the Family Department was allocated nearly $235,000 for similar removal and replacement of contents work. Due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Maria, the northern regional office lost almost all its movable property. The obligation includes work at Family Department offices in Barceloneta, Lares, Las Marías, Manatí, Morovis, Quebradillas, Utuado and Florida.

The multi-service facilities in Bayamón, Ponce, Guayama, Humacao, Mayagüez, Carolina and Caguas also underwent movable property replacement work, for which nearly $181,000 was granted. There, citizens can access educational and preventive social services, which helps reduce the risk factors that cause violence in the family in the form of child neglect, abuse and gender-based violence.

To date, FEMA has obligated over $7.5 million to the Family Department for 18 projects, to address emergency work necessitated by Hurricane Maria and permanent work.

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