In late 2019 and early 2020 a series of strong earthquakes swept through the southwestern region of Puerto Rico and caused severe damage to many homes, buildings, roads, and other infrastructure. Several federal agencies activated disaster programs to assist in reconstruction and debris removal, but there is still much work to be done to achieve safe and resilient structures for the future.
To help with long-term earthquake recovery, the Puerto Rico Department of Housing (PRDOH) and six of the most affected municipalities—Lajas, Guayanilla, Guánica, Ponce, Yauco, and Peñuelas—signed an agreement on September 30, 2022, for the use of $36.4 million in HUD Community Planning and Development Disaster Recovery funds (CDBG-DR) through a municipal consortium called ConSur (Consorcio del Sur, in English, Southern Consortium).
HUD is invested in the effective and long-lasting recovery for these southern towns, which have suffered disaster after disaster: the effects of Hurricane Maria in 2017, the COVID-19 pandemic, earthquakes, and the most recent storm, Hurricane Fiona. Just this year, Secretary Marcia L. Fudge and Southeast Administrator José Álvarez met with the ConSur group to provide support for this initiative, and the HUD San Juan Field Office, through its director Efrain Maldonado and the Disaster Recovery Coordinating Officer Laura Rivera, offers technical assistance.
The PRDOH is the state grantee of these funds and developed an action plan focused on a Housing Seismic Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Action Plan (SR2). PRDOH Secretary William Rodríguez said of the agreement, “We seek to effectively implement the funds available for the recovery of the south, by integrating the most affected municipalities in its administration and management, as entrusted by Governor Pedro Pierluisi. This is a unique and crucial opportunity for the municipalities themselves and low-income families who still need to live under a safe roof.” With the signing of this agreement, ConSur will start the process of executing the plan.
More information on the SR2 program can be found here.