Chair Grijalva, Sen. Menendez, Reps. Velázquez and Ocasio-Cortez Urge Puerto Rico Housing Authority To Minimize Low Income Community Displacement
Washington D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) sent a joint letter today urging the Puerto Rico Department of Housing to immediately address deficiencies in the Home Repair, Reconstruction, or Relocation Program (R3 Program), which is being implemented with federal disaster recovery funds.
The lawmakers raise concerns that implementing the R3 Program in its current form would result in the displacement of thousands of low-income island residents. The lawmakers ask the agency to clarify its level of stakeholder engagement in disaster planning and its compliance with mandates to minimize displacement of low-income neighborhoods in flood zones.
The full letter is available at https://bit.ly/2OCPC24.
During Chair Grijalva’s most recent visit to Puerto Rico, he heard from communities and local non-profit organizations who expressed their concerns that the Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery funds used for the R3 Program are not reaching people who most need them. Residents shared concerns that relocation in the name of disaster planning may, in some cases, be a political ploy to transfer valuable land to developers.
In today’s letter, the lawmakers point out that the R3 program does not include a clear policy to minimize displacements, as mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They urge the Puerto Rico Department of Housing to consider both the speed and quality of disaster recovery efforts and to consult with all relevant stakeholders, including federal and state governments, and most importantly the residents of Puerto Rico before taking action.
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