SJ mayor announces initiatives to help homeless citizens
They include free housing and essential service programs
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero Lugo announced Thursday that the capital city, along with the Social and Community Development Department, will begin initiatives to assist homeless citizens.
The joint effort will also include the island Family Department and the Mental Health & Anti-Addiction Services Administration.
As part of the initiative, Romero Lugo said, at least 114 home leases will be provided to participants that include a voucher that will cover housing, water, and electric power expenses for a year, a housing certification, and “access to a decent home.” During a press conference held in Río Piedras, he handed out some 20 home leases.
“The participants were chosen through programs such as Casas Nuestra Gente, which is close to Luis Muñoz Rivera Avenue, and the San Juan Municipality Shelter Center,” Romero Lugo said. “There are a large number of cases that are underway; what we want is for all cases to be able to have access to their vouchers, certifications, and their new homes as soon as possible.”
“Our goal is that the person, in one year, is capable to have self-sufficiency and the greatest level of health and, during that term, to give them the utmost support in an integrated manner,” the mayor added.
As for how the program works, Romero Lugo said “it works similarly to a Plan 8 voucher.” He said participants will be able to choose their preferred residence within the project and will have access to social workers for additional support.
The mayor also said a $542,000 allocation to San Juan from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development made the initiative possible.
Romero Lugo added that he would be restarting free essential services to homeless citizens through the “Camino a tu Recuperación” program, which consists of providing services such as general aid, coronavirus screenings, and HIV tests through the capital city’s mobile unit.
“This comes from the transition hearings, where it was revealed that a unit that was purchased four years ago for more than $382,000 was not being used to provide services to homeless people,” he said.
The San Juan mayor also announced that the Family Department has allocated $210,000 to establish centers that provide free personal hygiene services for homeless citizens.
The efforts are being coordinated between the municipality and more than 20 non-profit organizations.
“We will continue to work to allocate the necessary resources for this population in a responsive and efficient manner,” Romero Lugo said. “Meanwhile, today we celebrate the new beginning for these 20 participants of a new stage of independence and success in their lives.”
San Juan District 3 Rep. Juan Oscar Morales congratulated Romero Lugo on the initiative.
“What he has promised during his campaign, he’s working to make a reality,” the legislator said.
“I am sure that this will be one of many projects that we are contemplating in Río Piedras,” Morales added. “From the Legislature, we will be contributing to making these dreams and more come true.”