CDBG-DR Funds Moving Forward Steadily

(Caguas, P.R) –The Puerto Rico Housing Financing Authority (PRHFA) and the Puerto Rico Department of Housing announced today that $135 million have been awarded for the construction of the José Gautier Benítez project, a multifamily and affordable elderly housing proposal that will be developed in the municipality of Caguas and will provide 438 housing units for low- and moderate-income families.

The multifamily project will consist of 238 new one-, two-, three-, or four-bedroom dwelling units divided into 40 residential units of three-floor buildings, while the affordable elderly housing will have 200 new one-bedroom apartment units at three five-floor residential buildings.

“We are very pleased, because we’re carrying out the mission given by Governor Wanda Vázquez-Garced to promote economic development and provide dignified homes to our families. With this project, we will succeed in making a difference for 438 families with a modern project built upon 21 acres of land,” said PRHFA’s executive director, Luis Fernández-Trinchet.

The also president of the Government Development Bank indicated that “of the 238 multifamily units, 15 provide mobility access and seven provide sensory access. Meanwhile, of the 200 units for people over 62, 30 will be wheelchair accessible and six will have access for people with sensory disabilities.”

The project’s design includes connecting streets that take into consideration both foot and vehicular traffic in order to facilitate economic activity and promote the community’s social and economic development.

The project has taken into account the use of environmentally friendly practices and materials. In addition, it will feature energy conservation methods: Energy Star equipment, solar panels, emergency power generators, and storm-resistant windows.

Its urban location, which features businesses within reasonable distances, was chosen in order to benefit the local economy. As part of the amenities offered, the project will feature a community center, outdoor exercise equipment, facilities for exercising, a picnic area, a computer center, a supermarket, a pool, a playground, and a walking trail, among others.

The José Gautier Benítez project will also include the installation of broadband infrastructure, as required by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in order to breach the digital gap between communities of different income levels, as well as to provide a platform for people and their families to participate in the digital economy and increase their access to economic opportunities.

The PRHFA awarded $64 million in federal tax credits through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and $46 million under the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). The Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration (PRPHA) awarded the remaining $25 million.

The Department of Housing secretary, Fernando Gil-Enseñat, pointed out that “The PRDOH, in collaboration with the PRHFA, will use the CDBG-DR funds to expand public and private financing methods for the construction of rental housing units at reasonable prices under the LIHTC program that is managed by the PRHFA.”

The secretary explained that, under the LIHTC program, a developer secures a construction or permanent loan from a private entity or public agency and public or private financing; as well as capital from private investors, in exchange for the LIHTC funds.

This CDBG-DR financing will help to cover any deficit and accelerate qualifying new construction or renovation projects that are ready to begin construction.

“These new projects will facilitate a modern and sustainable living space for their future residents and will strengthen community life, which is part of the purposes of properly managing federal funds for housing and urban development here in Puerto Rico,” said the secretary.

Meanwhile, the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration administrator, William Rodríguez-Rodríguez, stated that “two years after hurricanes Irma and Maria, there is still a need to restore secure housing in Puerto Rico, especially for those who were displaced from their homes due to the devastation caused by those natural disasters.”

The administrator further stated that “LIHTC has $400 million in CDBG-DR funds to offset the financing gap for multiple projects. Collaboration between the PRHFA, PRPHA, and PRDOH will remain focused on ensuring these funds are used for the concrete housing needs of all of Puerto Rico’s residents who require it.”

The developer for the José Gautier Benítez project is McCormack Baron Puerto Rico Developer. The general contractor is F&R Construction Group, while Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón is in charge of the project’s design.