The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it will award $1.5 billion in grants to help Puerto Rico recover from hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The announcement was made by HUD Deputy Secretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude, who was recently featured on the cover of HousingWire Magazine and recognized as a Woman of Influence in 2013. She made the announcement alongside Governor Ricardo Rosselló during her third visit to the island since the hurricanes occurred.
“President Trump and the entire HUD family stand with our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico to help them recover from these devastating hurricanes,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said.
“These recovery funds will help repair damaged homes and businesses,” Carson said. “As local leaders, along with their citizens, develop their recovery plans, HUD will reduce regulatory barriers and remove any unnecessary roadblocks to speed long-term recovery.”
The funds will be provided through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Program, and will support the long-term recovery of seriously damaged housing and local business in Puerto Rico.
This lady was kind enough to show us her home. It was completely submerged. But she isn’t letting the devastation temper her spirit. It’s people like her that CDBG-DR funds will help pic.twitter.com/8lAjjskCX5— Pam Patenaude (@HUDDepSec) February 1, 2018
“On behalf of the many thousands of survivors here in Puerto Rico, I want to express our appreciation to the administration and HUD for recognizing the tremendous needs that remain in so many of our neighborhoods,” Rosselló said. “This grant will make a huge difference in repairing damaged homes and businesses and facilitating the social and economic recovery here in the island.”
But while the administration seems to currently be getting along with the island, this wasn’t always the case. Back in October last year, President Donald Trump tweeted statements about Puerto Rico’s poor financial state “largely of their own making,” saying the U.S. can’t continue to help the island forever.
...We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017
The island’s leadership was also critical of the president and his response to the crisis. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz criticized the president’s response, and then later responded to his comments by asking, “every American that has love, and not hate in their hearts, to stand with Puerto Rico and let this President know we WILL NOT BE LEFT TO DIE.”
Even now, months after the storm has passed, about 60,000 homes are still without roofs, 2.3 million people live in areas at risk of water contamination and 15.5% of the population are still without power. This island is now $94 billion more in debt due to the story and the official death toll is 64, however many estimate the true number of deaths is closer to 1,000.