SAN JUAN – The Secretary of the Department of Housing (DV), William Rodríguez Rodríguez, held on Wednesday a virtual meeting with the presidents of the Federation and the Association of Mayors, as well as officials of the Federal Department of Housing (HUD, for its acronym in English), in which several alternatives were discussed that would allow expediting the disbursement of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
“After the passage of hurricanes Irma and María and later with the earthquakes, it was demonstrated that the municipalities are the first line of response. We are looking for those alternatives that would provide municipalities with 50,000 inhabitants or less, receive CDBG funds directly from the Federal Housing Department, without intermediaries, “said the secretary of the DV in written communication.
Rodríguez Rodríguez added that “municipal governments are in charge of identifying, planning and developing projects that benefit their people and citizens. These changes are aimed at providing the first municipal executives with the necessary resources to attend to their needs ”.
“I thank the secretary and the governor for listening to our claim and responding to this request diligently to give continuity to the service programs and social justice projects in the municipalities,” said the president of the Federation of Mayors, Ángel Pérez Otero.
“This is something that we had asked the Secretary and the Housing officials in Washington, which will help small and medium-sized municipalities,” he said.
Pérez Otero explained that “these changes will streamline the funds disbursement processes for municipalities that do not receive these federal funds directly, which are those with a population of less than 50 thousand inhabitants.”
The Association of Mayors of Puerto Rico, Luis Javier Hernández, stated that “the regular CDBG program is a cornerstone for municipalities with less than 50 thousand inhabitants since the funds that are received annually from HUD, which are estimated at around 25 Millions of dollars allow the provision of essential services to low and moderate income people, such as housekeepers, road repaving, home renovation, among others ”.
“The ability for these municipalities to jointly manage the regular CDBG program funds directly is an important step forward in solving the CDBG program management problems, which have prevented funds from reaching the people quickly. This meeting with Olga de la Rosa, CPD of HUD, the Secretary of Housing, Lcdo. William Rodríguez and the president of the Federation of Mayors, Ángel Pérez, is a step in the right direction and I am confident that the mechanism or the decentralized and municipal legal entity that is finally chosen to manage them will significantly improve services to the citizenship. The united municipalities are a winning formula, and here it will not be the exception ”.
Finally, it was detailed that, according to the proposal, the structures to be created must obtain the prior approval of the Federal Department of Housing to be considered recipients of CDBG funds.
HUD will have absolute discretion to authorize or deny the designation of these structures as CDBG grant recipients.