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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Public urged to participate in disaster relief orientation

Housing Secretary William Rodríguez Rodríguez

By John McPhaul

Island Housing Secretary William Rodríguez Rodríguez urged citizens on Monday to participate in a new edition of an event designed to orient the public about federal disaster relief, which will take place Thursday at Ángel “Cholo” Espada Municipal Coliseum in Salinas.

“The past 10 orientation events that we conducted with ‘CDBG-DR Route’ were a success, so we are sure that we will receive the same support in the municipality of Salinas,” the official said in a written statement.

The orientations, which begin at 9 a.m., are free of charge and open to the general public.

The aid offered by the Department of Housing staff comes from Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds granted to Puerto Rico for its recovery after hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Rodríguez said that any citizen, family, non-profit, faith-based organization and small business, among others, can benefit from the initiative, which seeks to bring funds closer to the people.

“Our goal is that people and entities can be oriented and benefit from this multimillion-dollar allocation,” he said. “The important thing is that they arrive at the activity and get oriented so that, in turn, they can receive assistance and complete their application for the program they are interested in.”

The CDBG-DR Route, southeast region, intends to serve residents of the municipalities of Salinas, Guayama, Arroyo, Cayey, Aibonito, Coamo, Santa Isabel, Juana Díaz, Cidra and Patillas. However, anyone who shows up at the Salinas venue can participate, regardless of whether or not they reside in any of the aforementioned municipalities.

“We have countless programs available,” Rodríguez said. “One of the most requested is Direct Assistance to the Buyer, which provides eligible participants with a subsidy of up to $60,000 to cover expenses related to the purchase of a home. The maximum direct aid is $45,000 for eligible households and up to $55,000 for households made up of at least one first responder. In both cases, it is possible to request an additional subsidy of $5,000 if the house is located in an urban center.”

For each orientation activity, the Housing Department has assigned trained personnel who are familiar with all the guidelines required by each program to assist each participant in person, in a responsive and efficient manner. The goal is to serve as many people as possible because, Rodríguez said, there are still people in Puerto Rico who can benefit from the funds.

Also participating in the event will be financial organizations, including banks and cooperatives, to prequalify prospective home buyers.

Another program that has been in demand is the Small Business Incubators and Accelerators job training program.

“We are also promoting the help offered by the Section 3 program through economic and employment opportunities to boost the hiring of low- and moderate-income employees among contractors of the CDBG-DR program,” Rodríguez said.

After Salinas, the CDBG-DR Route will head to the central and southwestern regions during July and August, respectively.

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