SAN JUAN – The candidate for the Washington resident police station of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, along with Gabriel López Arrieta and Aníbal José Torres assured on Monday that just over a week after the third year of the passage of Hurricane María For Puerto Rico, only 16 percent has been obligated, and only 2 percent has been disbursed, of the federal funds allocated to address the housing crisis.
Acevedo Vilá pointed out that these federal funds that have been allocated, some through FEMA and others through various federal agencies, are simply not reaching the people.
“The incredible thing is that this government has had 3 years to use funds that ordinarily expire 6 years after the Action Plan is approved. The incompetence of this administration has caused that about 25 thousand families today are living under blue awnings and another 70 thousand families waiting for the reconstruction of their homes. Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González has to work with her Republican government and the president that she defends so much, so that these items are usable. You need to work with Ben Carson, the federal Secretary of Housing, to expedite the action plan amendments. To date all their advertisements and fanfare are mere optical illusions full of bureaucracy resulting in a highly inefficient process. Here again we say to the Congress of the United States: the current New Progressive administration of the Government of Puerto Rico is incompetent and does not have the capacity to use the assigned monies. In this case, some 49 billion dollars allocated after almost 3 years since the natural phenomenon of hurricanes Irma and María, ”Acevedo Vilá said in a written communication.
He explained that, according to official data, the federal government has allocated more than $ 49,839,647,963 ($ 49 billion) in federal funds for recovery. Of that total, $ 19,945,593,000 ($ 19 billion) comes from the federal Department of Housing. Unfortunately of that billionaire allocation for housing, only $ 3,207,179,000 ($ 3 billion) have been obligated (committed), and worse still, only $ 67,134,017 ($ 67 million) have been disbursed (spent). In what is a scandal of greater proportions, only 0.33 percent of the total allocated has been invested in the housing crisis.
“The reason for this disaster in the administration of these funds lies in the inability of the current New Progressive administration, both with Ricardo Rosselló and with Wanda Vázquez, to do the job in a responsible, organized and transparent manner, and the inaction of the commissioner resident, Jenniffer González, ”said the former head of the Public Housing Administration (AVP), Gabriel López Arrieta.
“Three years after Hurricane María, the country continues to suffer from the administrative incapacity of this administration, the complicity of the Legislative Assembly, and the abandonment of Puerto Rican families who continue without safe roofs over their homes. The worst thing is that the administrative disorder generated by the current administration of the New Progressive Party (PNP) through complicated bureaucratic processes and an incoherent plan to provide resources to citizens ”, she added.
Meanwhile, Senator Aníbal José Torres Torres pointed out that “the panorama is even more complicated. As the mayors have said and according to the government’s own numbers, not a single penny has been disbursed for risk mitigation with funds from FEMA through COR3. That is an item of $ 2,999,975,000 (about $ 3 billion) of which about $ 100,381,575 ($ 100 million) has been imposed and not a single penny has been disbursed. This panorama makes clear an administrative collapse in the face of an incoherent reconstruction plan, thus costing thousands of Puerto Ricans housing at the peak of the hurricane season.
López Arrieta pointed out that currently the budget items collide with each other, “resulting in an unsustainable government bureaucracy that is directly affecting the mayors’ ability to bring resources to their municipalities. The mayors are in a situation where ironically they cannot raise funds that are so much needed by having to go through different processes depending on the program for which they request the funds.
Finally, the popular group proposed to the Secretary of Housing to amend the Action Plan with the Federal Department of Housing to channel these projects through municipalities and other non-profit organizations. They also added that those who can address the issue with the agility it requires are the mayors who have worked for many years with this type of funding.