The San Juan Daily Star
Pact delivers $46 million for affordable housing in Martín Peña Channel communities
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and Housing Secretary William Rodríguez Rodríguez announced Wednesday the signing of an agreement with the Caño Martín Peña ENLACE Project Corp. (ENLACE) that grants $46 million in recovery funds to contribute to the development of two affordable housing projects.
The allocation is being provided under the Multisectoral Program for Community Mitigation (MSC by its Spanish initials) of the Community Development Block Grant Mitigation program for the Quisqueya 125 and Barbosa 211 projects. Both plots are located on Quisqueya Avenue in San Juan.
“My commitment to rebuilding and modernizing our infrastructure to provide our people with a more efficient and secure environment is known to all,” Pierluisi said at a press conference accompanied by several representatives of the Martín Peña Channel communities collectively known as the G8. “That particularly includes prioritizing housing projects, as there is a pressing need to increase our stock of affordable housing in Puerto Rico. Today is an important day for the advancement of that priority agenda of my administration to promote the development of decent and affordable housing for our people.”
The Housing secretary noted that “for many years, the community of Caño Martín Peña has been recognized for its self-management and its courage to protect and preserve its community.”
“With this allocation, we contribute so that hundreds of families in this area have access to safe housing and can focus on raising their families,” Rodríguez said.
The governor announced that the agreement establishes that the grant will cover the conceptualization, design and construction of the Quisqueya 125 multifamily housing complex for 115 low- to moderate-income families. Similarly, the Barbosa 211 multifamily housing project is proposed for the former facilities of the General Services Administration at 11 Barbosa Ave. The number of families to benefit from the second project will be defined during the planning and design process that will take place directly after that of Quisqueya 125.
Both projects will include the design and development of recreational and communal elements to promote the livability of the space and the quality of life of the residents. Resilient housing designs will also be incorporated to reduce risks to life and property as a result of possible future natural disasters.
Meanwhile, ENLACE Executive Director Mario Núñez Mercado said “these funds will allow the development of new housing to continue, which makes the construction of basic infrastructure projects viable, with options for communities to remain intact and do justice to the residents of Caño Martín Peña.”
With a budget of $300 million, the MSC Program provides vulnerable communities with the opportunity to carry out a participatory design process with resources provided by the Housing Department. Through the process, community residents are integrated into decision-making about the community elements they would like in the design of their new community. Thus the MSC program has the mission of keeping communities together, so it requires that the community relocation proposals submitted have the support of at least 60% of the residents of the community.
The Caño Martín Peña district has more than 20,000 residents, and consists of eight sectors: Las Monjas, Barrio Obrero-San Ciprián, Barrio Obrero-Marina, Buena Vista-Santurce, Buena Vista-Hato Rey, Parada 27, Israel-Bitumúl and Península de Cantera.
The projects are among the initiatives that the Pierluisi administration has carried out to benefit the G8 communities with federal and commonwealth funds. In August 2021, the governor allocated $130 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for aqueduct and sewer projects in the Caño district and announced the dredging phase of the Puerto Nuevo River.
In January of last year, Pierluisi announced that the U.S. Corps of Engineers (USACE) had approved over $230 million in federal funds from the USACE for improvements to Martín Peña Channel, San Juan Bay and the Culebrinas River, and later unveiled an agreement for the dredging and restoration of the channel.