HUD Economic Opportunities Summit in San Juan:
If you really want to help the community, Section 3 is your tool
[Lorett Caro lived in public housing; after graduating from the university chose to help low-income residents]
Lorett Caro lived in public housing; after graduating from the university chose to help low-income residents
[Jesús Rosado started washing cars to help at home. After college decided to continue empowering low-income residents]
Jesús Rosado started washing cars to help at home. After college decided to continue empowering low-income residents
[Former public housing residents and businesses owners who benefited from HUD Section 3 Economic Opportunity Program offered their testimonials]
Former public housing residents and businesses owners who benefited from HUD Section 3 Economic Opportunity Program offered their testimonials
[HUD San Juan Field Office Director Efraín Maldonado welcomes attendees to the HUD Economic Opportunities Summit]
HUD San Juan Field Office Director Efraín Maldonado welcomes attendees to the HUD Economic Opportunities Summit

HUD’s Section 3 program requires that entities receiving federal funds make their best effort to train and hire low-income residents and contractors of the area where the funds are being used. Following this mandate, in June the HUD San Juan Filed Office partnered with the Puerto Rico Department of Housing, the PR Builders Association, and the PR Association of General Contractors for a Section 3 HUD Economic Summit held at the Puerto Rico Convention Center.

The highlights of the day were provided by testimonials from former residents who became self-sufficient, and business from the area who help and hire residents. Lorett Caro grew up in Residencial Rafael Martínez Nadal in Guaynabo. After graduating from the University of Puerto Rico, worked at Residencial Las Gardenias, in Bayamón. With effort and dedication Caro became a homeowner. Now as Economic Self-Reliance Coordinator for Residencial La Rosaleda, in Guaynabo, Lorett continues helping others.

Jesús Rosado was born in Bayamón. His first job was washing cars. As a teenager during the summers he worked in youth programs for the residents of Vega Alta to save money for school items. He became a recreational leader. After graduating from American University of Puerto Rico, he continued helping low-income residents; leads services for tenants at Brisas del Campo in Manatí, and is in the process of buying a home.

With an attendance of over 300 people, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Roselló Nevares was the keynote speaker. Christopher Taylor, HUD's Field Policy and Management Supervisory Field Operations Manager showcased the benefits of the technological tools available for both business and residents to learn about opportunities via Business Registry and the Opportunity Portal. Wanda Nieves and Tzeitel Andino -Caballero, from HUD's Fair Housing team talked about Section 3 Program Overview and Compliance. Staff from the Puerto Rico Department of Housing communicated their strategies to meet the requirement and detailed their procurement process. 

Business leaders also shared how Section 3 benefitted both their companies and helped the residents to achieve self-sufficiency their experiences. Alfonso Valdés, President of Cost Control Company, Inc. shared his experience of 20 years working in projects funded by HUD. His company provides administrative services to housing developments around the island. Valdés currently employs 600 employees; 56 percent of them meet the Section 3 requirements.

For more than 40 years Caribe Tecno has built and rehabilitated housing. In the mid-seventies San Juan selected to renew projects in the Buenos Aires and Las Corozas neighborhoods of the municipality. Since then the company has been aware of HUD's Section 3 initiatives. Its President, José Domingo Pérez Muñiz has reiterated Caribe Tecno's commitment to help workers in low-income communities.

The interest about how Section 3 works is growing as more business learn how to properly use federal funds to comply with the program, given the significant funding HUD has allocated to Puerto Rico to help with its recovery after Hurricane María. Experts in workforce development from the U.S. Small Business Administration, PathSthone Corporation, and the Ramey Job Corps highlighted their programs in a very interactive session.