(Wednesday, April 7, 2021 – San Juan, P.R.) – Today the secretary of the Department of Housing (DV, for its Spanish acronym), William Rodríguez Rodríguez, held a virtual meeting with the presidents of the Federation and the Association of Mayors, as well as with officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in which they discussed various options that would allow for speeding up the disbursement of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
“After the passing of hurricanes Irma and María, and later the earthquakes, it was made clear that the municipalities are the first to respond. We are looking for those options that would allow municipalities with a population of 50 thousand or fewer to receive CDBG funds directly from the Department of Housing and Urban Development with not intermediaries,” said the secretary of the Department of Housing.
Rodríguez Rodríguez added that “it’s municipal governments who are in charge of identifying, planning, and developing the projects that will benefit their community and citizens. These changes are intended to provide the heads of municipalities with the resources needed to address their needs.”
The president of the Mayors Federation, Ángel Pérez Otero, said that “I thank the secretary and the governor for listening to our request and addressing it with diligence in order to continue service programs and social justice projects in the municipalities.”
“This is something that we had requested from the secretary and Housing officials in Washington, and that will help small and mid-size municipalities,” he assured.
Pérez Otero explained that “these changes will speed up the process of disbursing funds for municipalities that do not receive these federal funds directly, which are those with a population of under 50 thousand.”
For his part, the president of the Mayors Association, Luis Javier Hernández, said that “the regular CDBG program is a cornerstone for municipalities with a population of under 50 thousand because the funds currently received from HUD, which are estimated to be around $25, allow us to provide essential services to low-income and middle-income individuals, such as childcare providers, road repairs, housing rehabilitation, among others.”
“The opportunity for these municipalities to all manage funds from the regular CDBG program directly is an important step toward solving the management problems in the CDBG program that have prevented funds from reaching the people quickly. This meeting with Olga De La Rosa, CPD director of HUD, the secretary of the Department of Housing, William Rodríguez, and the president of the Mayors Federation, Ángel Pérez, is a step in the right direction and I’m confident that the mechanism or decentralized legal municipal entity chosen in the end to manage them will significantly improve the services provided to the people. United municipalities are a winning formula, and this will be no exception.”
Finally, it was specified that, based on the proposal, the organizations to be created must have prior approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to be CDBG recipients. HUD will have absolute discretion to authorize or reject the designation of these organizations as grant recipients for CDBG funds.