(San Juan, P.R.) – The Puerto Rico Department of Housing (PRDOH) and the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resilience (COR3) announced today the launching of a Non-Federal Share Match Program to support municipalities, agencies, and non-government agencies with limited resources during the recovery process in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Some FEMA assistance programs require a cost-share of the federal funds provided for recovery. This cost-share can be 10% or 25% depending on the program, work, and disaster. As a general rule, this cost-share cannot be covered with other federal funds. The exception to this rule is the use of funds from the Community Development Block Grant- Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program for this purpose.
“As mandated by Governor Wanda Vázquez-Garced, and in light of the latent need that persists in Puerto Rico after the ravages of the 2017 hurricanes, as well as the recent earthquakes, it is of utmost importance that we manage state and federal resources soundly in order to accelerate the rebuilding,” said PRDOH Secretary Luis Fernández-Trinchet.
The secretary also stated that, “through this program, we will ensure compliance with the requirements of the FEMA programs, which, in turn, will directly benefit the municipalities and eligible entities while we manage the resources carefully and responsibly in order to put the necessary manpower to work so that we can see the rebuilding of Puerto Rico.”
The deputy secretary of the CDBG-DR Program, Dennis González, explained that the program seeks to provide reimbursements through CDBG-DR funds for local cost-share requirements in projects financed by FEMA that are also eligible under the CDBG-DR requirements.
The program will be managed by the PRDOH in collaboration with the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resilience (COR3).
“This is a program that plays a vital role in Puerto Rico’s transformation and reconstruction. Its implementation is part of one of the pillars of socioeconomic development at the local level, as it allows FEMA and COR3 to work uniformly at a fiscal and administrative level,” emphasized González.
The program — formerly known as the FEMA Coordination Program— is aimed at financing the cost-share for 3 programs that FEMA has been implementing on the island: the Public Assistance Program, the Individual Assistance Program, and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).
FEMA provides grants through the Public Assistance Program for immediate employment related to responding to the storm’s aftermath, as well as for the repair and rebuilding of facilities affected by a disaster. Through the Individual Assistance Program, FEMA helps people with immediate and urgent housing needs.
For the Public Assistance and Individual Assistance cost-share programs, the Department of Housing signed an interagency agreement with COR3 aimed at allowing PRDOH to use COR3’s disaster recovery system (DRS). This is the payment and data system used by COR3 to manage reimbursements to entities.
Meanwhile, COR3’s executive director, Ottmar Chávez, stated that “at COR3 we remain firm in our stance that the diligent management of the funds we receive for recovery will allow us to expedite the reconstruction process while showing the federal Government our capacity for using these funds.”
Chávez further stated that “we’re excited to take this step forward in collaboration with the PRDOH, because in doing so we will make progress in the reconstruction of our Island while bringing about its social and economic acceleration.”
The program also allows for funds awarded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to be used for complying with the cost-share requirements of the FEMA programs.
It was reported that the PRDOH will enter into subrecipient agreements (SRA) with each entity that will establish the compliance requirements for the cost-share eligibility programs.
The general budget for the program is currently $1 billion after the recent establishment of the grant agreement with HUD for the second fund allocation.