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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor proclaims progress in housing construction

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

Welcomes new Builders Association leadership

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia offered an update Wednesday on the reconstruction and construction of homes on the island, during the swearing-in of the new Puerto Rico Builders Association board of directors.

“It is clear that the investments we are making to renew our infrastructure are an important foundation on which we are building the sustainable economic development of Puerto Rico,” the governor said in a written statement. “We all have to see it as an extraordinary capital investment, for which we do not have to incur debt. They are infrastructure works that promote economic activity and job creation in the short and medium term, and at the same time provide us with a permanent asset for our island, such as better roads, better utilities, more housing and better schools, what makes Puerto Rico an attractive destination to live, invest, do business and retire.”

Pierluisi noted that, through the disaster funds available to the island Housing Department, 6,200 affected homes have already been rebuilt or repaired, more than 3,000 relocation vouchers have been granted and 4,600 more residences are in process.

The governor also announced that through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Gap Program for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), the construction of more than 850 housing units was completed throughout the island, and another 1,278 units are under construction. Furthermore, in the coming months the signing of contracts for projects that will create nearly 700 more homes must be finalized, he added.

Likewise, Pierluisi pointed out, after the signing of Law 1 of 2024, which raises the ceilings on the sale prices of social housing and allows the development of more residences in that segment, some 5,000 more homes could be added.

Meanwhile, to continue expanding the housing inventory through the risk mitigation funds of the CDBG-MIT Program and by way of a competitive process, the governor noted that, last year, and in a first phase, 15 proposals were awarded for developers who will build 1,380 single-family units. In the second phase, which was published last September, the projects that are in the evaluation process were received “and we seek to award projects that will lead us to complete our goal of adding 3,000 additional housing units through this program,” Pierluisi said.

Apart from the CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT funds in Puerto Rico, there are already nearly 2,300 construction projects completed with funds allocated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), representing an increase of 2,219 projects compared to the 81 when the current administration began.

“In January 2021, there were only 510 permanent work projects in different stages of execution, and today we have more than 6,000 works underway under the direction of FEMA, of which 2,700 are under construction,” the governor said. “Likewise, under the Accelerated Obligation Strategy program, which covers the important areas of energy, water and sewage, educational infrastructure and public housing, at the beginning of 2021 there was not a single approved project and today we already have more than 540 approved projects.”

He further indicated that “the FEMA funds disbursed amounted to only $159 million when we arrived, and today we have already disbursed about $2.323 billion, of which $1.3 million relates to FAASt program projects.”

“At the same time, FEMA has already approved about $190 million in large reconstruction projects related to Hurricane Fiona in permanent work, and we will provide $10 million to municipalities to cover the cost of matching their projects,” Pierluisi said.

During the event in San Juan, Augustín Rojo was sworn in as the president of the Builders Association.

“I have no doubt that he will serve with great dedication to continue helping the industry grow and progress,” the governor said. “The achievements in economic development and reconstruction of our island are shared and together we will continue to build a solid future for Puerto Rico.”

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