Nearly two years after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, thousands of homes are still covered with blue tarps. >Archive

Housing Secretary Fernando Gil announced today that the agency’s Repair, Reconstructing and Relocation housing program for low to middle-income residents in Puerto Rico, whose homes suffered damages from Hurricane Maria in 2017, will be officially launched tomorrow.

The $775 million initiative is part of the $1.5 billion tranche in Community Block Development Grants (CDBG) that have already been approved by the federal government as part of reconstruction funds for the island.

The priority during the first 90 days will be for residents whose homes are still covered with a blue tarp; those age 65 and older; and the disabled.

Gil estimates that around 20,000 to 25,000 residents will apply for the assistance. Depending on the family composition, the maximum award for reconstruction is $60,000 and for reconstruction and relocation, the maximum is $150,000.

The awardees must live in a single-unit home, be the homeowners and meet income requirements. Gil said the agency has negotiated with the federal government on income requirements, which will be lower than those established in the U.S. mainland. For Puerto Rico, the maximum family income is about $80,000 a year, he indicated. "We want to help as many people as we can."

The applicant cannot receive duplicate benefits, such as have private insurance, he said.

Housing has set up call centers at 1-833-234-2324 for those who are interested and to coordinate appointments. Service centers will also be open at several municipalities: Aguadilla, Bayamón, Carolina, Guayama, Orocovis and Ponce.

For more information, log on to www.cdbg-dr.pr.gov.

Reporter for The Weekly Journal. She is a journalist with more than 20 years of experience. Rosario received both of her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in International Politics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

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