Juncos – Almost three years after the passage of Hurricane María on the island, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced finally announced the construction of the first home – affected by the atmospheric phenomenon – under the federal program of Repair, Reconstruction or Relocation (R3) .
This is the first of 339 agreements signed between the owner of the structure and the R3 program through 66 municipalities. However, at the moment, work has only begun – design and permits – on 180 of these residential projects, for an investment of $ 7.2 million. In total, 26,997 families have applied to participate in the initiative.
The governor acknowledged the delay that has occurred for the start of the program, but assured that the issue has been a priority for her since she assumed the reins of the country. “In ten months, I have taken out 300 houses for these citizens who had been waiting for three years for no reason. I made it a priority for these citizens to have their houses, so I think that work can be done, that the money has to be in the people who need it, "he said.
Among the first participants in the program are Reinaldo Gómez and Silvia Soto a humble couple from the Ceiba Sur neighborhood of Juncos whose home the governor visited yesterday. The couple submitted their claim to R3 in September last year and it was not until June 2020 that they received the approval.
"I did not expect to have a residence like the one that is going to be built for us after all we have been through, But now, thank God, we are closer (to having a new home), "shared the man.
The couple's house will be rebuilt in concrete, in a space of 800 square feet. It will have two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a living and dining area.
R3 draws on the $ 20 billion in funds from the community development program to address disasters (CDBG-DR) that Congress approved for Puerto Rich in the months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and supposed to meet the needs that were exposed under the programs of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after Hurricane Maria.
The Secretary of the Housing, Luis Fernández Trinchet explained that in this first phase the priority is for the requests of people 65 years or older, with some problem of functional diversity and those families whose homes suffered substantial damage. There are 2,642 cases of homes with canvas awnings, he said.
Faced with the indications related to the delays in the program, Fernández Trinchet replied that they do not have the ability to reinvent the wheel or travel in time, but that, from here From now on, the focus will be to guarantee the continuity of the program.
They assure that they will be vigilant
Given the bad experience of many families participating in the program Tu Hogar Renace the governor assured that they will monitor that the chosen contractors comply with the best practices in the use of the available funds.
“That contractor, that person who is part of this program and comes with the intention or, in the course, fails to comply with the conditions of this program, here it will not be able to be and will have to respond, "said the first executive.
Fernández Trinchet argued, meanwhile, that q The design and guidelines of this program prevent contractors from making estimates that do not fit the reality of the job. He indicated that, for the initiative, a system that establishes fixed construction costs is being used.
“For each house, a package of almost 150 pages is prepared to determine how much is going in contributions, design, permission, debris mitigation, demolition and removal. These costs in that system, there is no way for one contractor to put one number and the other to put another. " works that later had to be repaired by non-profit entities.