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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Fund launched to rehabilitate public nuisance properties



With an initial injection of $75,000, the rehabilitation of housing will begin under the pilot project, starting with a property granted by Toa Baja’s Public Nuisance Program.

By The Star Staff


The Center for Habitat Reconstruction (CRH) on Thursday presented the CRH Fund pilot project, an initiative that seeks to provide a revolving fund and liquidity to community land banks for the rehabilitation of abandoned properties.


“Land banks, created by municipalities through the 2020 Municipal Code, encourage new housing options. Our mission is to promote urban revitalization and affordable housing,” CRH Executive Director Luis Gallardo said. “Faced with these challenges, we have sought alternative financing that helps communities obtain affordable housing.”


Recently, CRH Fund staff launched its first revolving credit line with the Corporación de Propiedades y Tierras Comunitarias Inc. (LandBankPR), Puerto Rico’s first land bank, located in Toa Baja. With an initial injection of $75,000, the rehabilitation of housing will begin, starting with a property granted by Toa Baja’s Public Nuisance Program.


“The operational process of the CRH Fund is clear: after exhausting all resources to identify the owner and rehabilitate the structure, if there are no results, the municipality acquires the abandoned property and transfers it to the community land bank for rehabilitation,” noted Ismael González-Belén, president of the LandBankPR Citizens Board. “Finally, it is made available to low-income families.”


Toa Baja Mayor Bernardo “Betito” Márquez García added that “we are pleased that this project continues to move forward with transparency and citizen participation.”


“The issue of public nuisances is crucial within the vision of transformation and socioeconomic development of our people,” he said. “I thank the CRH and the Citizens Board for their work in the proper disposal of these properties.”


The CRH takes on the financial responsibility of revitalizing structures that are generally not eligible for loans at traditional banking institutions. Through an initial injection of funds from nonprofit organizations and through a grant from the Magic Cabinet Foundation, the Segarra Boerman Foundation and Filantropía PR, the pilot project seeks to strengthen the nonprofit ecosystem, including community land banks.


“It is important to highlight that this fund will assume a higher level of financial risk, motivated by the positive social impact,” Gallardo said. “By offering affordable housing alternatives and addressing public nuisance issues, the CRH Fund seeks to improve communities and the quality of life of their residents.”


He added that “once a rehabilitated property is sold, the funds are returned to the CRH Fund revolving line, allowing the revitalization cycle to continue and expand to other properties.”


The CRH hopes that the pilot project will serve as a replicable model for other communities and municipalities facing similar challenges of housing shortages and urban revitalization, Gallardo noted.


More information on CRH projects can be found by visiting www.crhpr.org or accessing social media for other community initiatives.

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