Written by DML
Below is a very important report which I ask you to please share on your social media accounts.
Above, you’ll see my “I can’t believe it” face. It’s spurred by a new report that has me wondering who made the people in DC so stupid.
Puerto Rico is not drowning in debt as the people living there are still suffering from the hurricane season 2017. To help get the island back on its feet, the US is sending $1.5 billion of US taxpayer money to the island.
If you scroll down to the bottom of the announcement below, you’ll see how the $1.5 billion is set to be spent. The biggest spend is on housing.
According to the report, the US is proving $1 billion for rebuilding homes (Puerto Rico intends to provide up to $120,000 to rebuild destroyed homes for each qualified homeowner and up to $48,000 to repair each eligible damaged property.)
Meanwhile, earlier this year, HUD offered just $2.2 billion to all of the 50 states in the United States to help local governments and outreach programs deal the homeless.
I’m all for helping the people of Puerto Rico, but the spending balance seems out of whack, does it not? Keep in mind, Puerto Ricans do not pay US federal income taxes on money earned in PR.
In addition, we are sending $1.5 billion to a government that is suspected of being corrupt. In case you missed it months ago, Puerto Rico’s chief of staff and three other government officials are facing accusations of undue influence.
The U.S. territory’s justice secretary announced earlier this year that there’s enough evidence to submit a case to special independent prosecutors who investigate government corruption. Among those being investigated are Chief of Staff William Villafane, Associate Secretary to the Interior Ministry Itza Garcia, water and sewer company vice president Yoniel Arroyo, and Administration for the Sustenance of Minors manager Waleska Maldonado.
In early 2017, the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis posed serious problems for the government. The outstanding bond debt had climbed to $70 billion at a time with 12.4% unemployment. The debt had been increasing during a decade long recession. This was the second major financial crisis to affect the island after the Great Depression when the U.S. government, in 1935, provided relief efforts through the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration. On May 3, 2017, Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board in the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico filed the debt restructuring petition which was made under Title III of PROMESA. By early August 2017, the debt was $72 billion with a 45% poverty rate.
In late September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, causing devastating damage. The island’s electrical grid was largely destroyed, with repairs expected to take months to complete, provoking the largest power outage in American history. Recovery efforts were somewhat slow in the first few months, and over 200,000 residents had moved to Florida alone by late November 2017.
HUD APPROVES $1.5 BILLION DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN IN PUERTO RICO
Action plan focuses on housing, infrastructure and economic development
WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson today announced HUD has approved a $1.5 billion disaster recovery plan to help citizens in Puerto Rico to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Puerto Rico recently submitted the plan for HUD’s review which primarily focuses on the restoration of damaged and destroyed homes, businesses and infrastructure. Read Puerto Rico’s recovery plan.
Puerto Rico’s long-term recovery is supported through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program which requires grantees to develop thoughtful recovery plans informed by local residents. Learn more about CDBG-DR and the State’s role in long-term disaster recovery (en español).
“Today, we turn an important corner in our long-term effort to rebuild hard-hit communities in Puerto Rico,” said Secretary Carson. “This is just the beginning – billions in federal disaster recovery funding will soon be put to work and help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico rebuild their homes and their lives.”
On September 8, 2017, President Trump signed the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017. The Act appropriated $7.4 billion in CDBG-DR funding for major disasters declared in 2017. To distribute these funds, the Act requires HUD to direct the funds to the areas most impacted by last year’s major disasters. On February 1, 2018, HUD allocated $1.5 billion of that appropriation to Puerto Rico to address the serious unmet needs on the island. The action plan approved today will put these funds to work.
On April 10, 2018, HUD allocated another $18.5 billion to further support recovery in Puerto Rico and to rebuild communities impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma and to protect them from major disasters in the future. HUD will shortly publish program rules to guide Puerto Rico and others on the use of those funds.
CDBG-DR grants support a variety of disaster recovery activities including housing redevelopment and rebuilding, business assistance, economic revitalization, and infrastructure repair. Grantees are required to spend the majority of these recovery funds in “most impacted” areas as identified by HUD. HUD will issue administrative guidelines shortly for use of the funds to address grantees’ long-term recovery needs, particularly in the area of housing recovery.
To address unmet needs, Puerto Rico identified several housing, infrastructure and economic development recovery needs arising from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery action plan includes the following activities:
Housing ($1 billion) – Puerto Rico is investing more than $1 billion to restore the island’s severely damaged housing stock. As part of the plan, Puerto Rico intends to provide up to $120,000 to rebuild destroyed homes for each qualified homeowner and up to $48,000 to repair each eligible damaged property. Additional housing investments include funding for rental assistance ($10,000,000), specifically for properties serving the elderly and other vulnerable households. Puerto Rico has also proposed a $36 million Home Emergency Resilience Program that provides up to $6,000 per household for individual solar appliances to help families.
Economic Revitalization ($145 million) – Puerto Rico’s recovery plan provides $145 million for several activities to help revitalize the post-disaster economy, grants of up to $50,000 for eligible businesses. The plan also targets grants of up to small business incubators and accelerators ($10,000,000) awards of up to $2,500,000 for each eligible incubator operation, a workforce training program ($10,000,000) awards of up to $2,000,000 to train eligible Section 3 residents , and a construction and commercial revolving loan program ($35,000,000) that will provide up to $1,000,000 per loan to eligible businesses.
Infrastructure ($100 million) – To support the repair of damaged infrastructure on the island, Puerto Rico intends to target $100 million to match federal investments through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program projects.