(June 23, 2020 – La Fortaleza, San Juan) Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced announced today the signing of the first seven agreements between municipalities and the Department of Housing for round one of the City Revitalization Program financed with CDGB-DR funds.

Today, the first agreements were signed with the municipalities of Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Gurabo, Orocovis, Ponce, Villalba, and Yauco; thereby advancing $11 million to them.

“We are very excited with the implementation of the program’s round one, because it will give us a glimpse of how each of these municipalities will use these funds to kick-start their economy and reinvigorate downtown areas. With today’s signing, we fulfill the commitment made last Thursday in the Budget Address. We are fulfilling our commitments and will continue to do so,” said Vázquez Garced.

Governor Vázquez Garced added that “we trust that the municipalities will use these funds wisely for the benefit of their citizens and will show everyone how to work hand-in-hand with the communities, with the vision of a prosperous Puerto Rico.”

The City Revitalization Program—funded by CDBG-DR funds—will provide funds to revitalize urban centers and key community corridors, for the purpose of improving communities and promoting their social and economic development.

The program will also promote the implementation of green infrastructure in the municipalities and enable recovery activities; this includes the rehabilitation or construction of buildings in critical urban areas, the elimination of architectural barriers, and improvements to public infrastructure.

On his part, Secretary of Housing Luis Fernández Trinchet explained that “in early June, the Department of Housing had already completed the capacity assessments of the first group of municipalities. Our team has maintained ongoing communication with the municipalities in order to assist them with the pertinent documentation and transactions.”

Fernández Trinchet added that “there is no one better than the municipalities to know the needs that are to be addressed. This program focus resources on them, to engage them in the restoration of their own spaces. We will continue working as a team until we achieve Puerto Rico’s full reconstruction.”

Last May 1, the 78 municipalities were already registered to participate in the City Revitalization Program, after several workshops offered by the Department of Housing to the municipal governments to explain to them the process to participate in the program. After completing the agreements, these seven municipalities may begin to present the identified projects to address recovery and resiliency needs.

The total amount of federal funding to be allocated is $1.23 billion for the three rounds. During round one, $600 million were among all the municipalities of the Island.

The remaining funds will be allocated in two additional rounds, taking into account the funds allocated to urban areas around the Río Piedras and Mayagüez campuses of the University of Puerto Rico, as well as administrative funds needed for the execution of the program.

Ponce mayor, María “Mayita” Meléndez said that “we want to thank Governor Vázquez, the secretary of Housing, and Senator Nelson Cruz. We have endured a lot for the past three years. We have experienced hurricanes, earthquakes, and a pandemic. We thank you for all you have done to get these funds.”

Likewise, Aguadilla Mayor Yanitzia Irizarry said “I would like to thank governor Vázquez for having taken these seven municipalities into consideration, to begin working towards the economic reconstruction of Puerto Rico. It has not been easy, but today, the municipalities—as the governments closest to the people—have been afforded a great opportunity, to address their the constituents’ needs. We hope to reinvigorate our urban centers. This contribution will allow us to fully support and engage in tourist development activities.”

“We are proud of the work done by the governor and the secretary of Housing during these difficult months. We had lost hope that we would receive these funds during this administration, and now we would like to thank Governor Vázquez for having established such a close relationship with the Federal Government, for it has resulted in the disbursement being made to these seven municipalities” added Yauco mayor, Ángel Luis Torres Ortiz.

Gurabo mayor, Rosachely Rivera Santana, stated that “Today an important step is taken to show what every municipality has to offer to Puerto Rico. With these funds, we will demonstrate that each one of us has the ability to make Puerto Rico shine and make it a world-class tourist destination.”

Furthermore, Aguas Buenas mayor, Javier García, pointed out that “our plans have finally come to fruition, we have been given the opportunity to begin this process. This is our way to revitalize the city, overcoming obstacles posed by properties that have been abandoned for many years and transform them to promote the economic development and expand our urban center.

Moreover, the vice-president of the Mayor’s Association, Villalba Mayor Luis Javier Hernández said that “Today we reaffirm the Mayor’s Association commitment to work together with the government and allow that these funds reach those who need them most: our people. We will receive these funds and will start reinvigorating our urban centers. Today, we receive a significant allocation to begin those plans. As mayor, I thank governor Vázquez and the secretary for their commitment with these funds, which will be well invested.”

In June 11, the Department of Housing offered a workshop to this first group of municipalities that had substantially completed the Capacity Assessment, to discuss the requirements of the subrecipient agreement (SRA) and make a live demonstration of the digital tool that the municipalities will use to file their projects. People with any functional diversity or disabilities or those who require more information about these programs, may contact our call center at 1 (833) 234-2324; write us an email at infoCDBG@vivienda.pr.gov; visit our webpage www.cdbg-dr.pr.gov; or write us at PO Box 21365 San Juan, PR 00928-1365.