SAN JUAN – The president of the Transition Committee of Pedro Rafael Pierluisi Urrutia, Ramón Luis Rivera Cruz, said on Tuesday that he will suggest a revision to the estimate of the Department of Housing, for the construction of affordable housing.
“Because a social interest house, there may be cases that can cost 200 or 225 thousand dollars, but that is a very high cost. With that cost, I give the money to anyone to buy the house in any urbanization. Recognizing that there has been an increase in construction costs, which may be 35 or 40 percent, but when at the moment it increases to 80, 90 or 100 percent, we are talking about a lot of money “, said the mayor of Bayamón at a press conference.
The estimated costs for affordable housing by the Department of Housing can reach up to $ 300,000.
“Those that the mayor mentions, I think it is a valid suggestion, we are going to examine it. You have to sit down with the private sector, planners and investors and reach some kind of agreement on what is understood to be a reasonable cost, ”said the Secretary of the Housing Department, Luis Carlos Fernández Trinchet.
According to the official, when low-income housing is built to qualify for tax credits, the contractor is obliged to guarantee the work for 15 years, which increases the cost of construction products.
However, the mayor of Bayamón did not agree with the secretary’s proposal.
“When we talk about affordable housing and when we talk about building a home with tax credits, they are two different things. I recognize that in the tax credit projects, the investor brings some money. But when I then put money from CDBG (Community Development Block Grant), that house – and I am going to bring the concrete examples that were brought to view – that of Caguas, when you divide the 438 housing units, each house is coming out in 308 thousand dollars. When I divide the Río Piedras project, which is 94 housing units, with the investment that is going to be made, we are talking about a house of 361 thousand dollars. And when we talk about the Coamo project, which are 69 housing units, we are talking about three hundred and sixty-odd thousand dollars for a one-bedroom property in some cases, tell me if that is a reasonable cost.
Rivera Cruz understands that the location of an affordable housing – if it were built in Old San Juan for example – can significantly increase its price, but the higher cost cannot be used as an average.
“My mentality is to stretch every dollar,” he said.
The Secretary of Housing defended the estimates and assured that the United States Department of the Treasury is the one who audits this program and “fortunately until now there has been no indication.”
The expressions of both officials were given on the second day of the Public Hearings of the Transition Committee.