The Vacant Properties Assessment (VPA) Initiative aims to serve as a catalyst for the development of deteriorated areas with a high concentration of vacant and deteriorated structures.
VACANT PROPERTIES ASSESSMENT INITIATIVE
Communities throughout Puerto Rico were severely impacted by hurricanes Irma and María, resulting in numerous vacant and deteriorated properties across the Island. The identification of these properties is essential to recovery and addressing the ever-growing deficit of affordable housing opportunities in the seventy-eight (78) municipalities. Additionally, there is a significant need for outcome-oriented community planning, especially around urban areas as well as Puerto Rico’s designated Special Communities. This has been established in the Unmet Needs Section of the CDBG-DR Action Plan.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE INITIATIVE
The 2020 Decennial Census estimates 257,625 vacant housing units in Puerto Rico.
The Vacant Properties Assessment (VPA) Initiative aims to serve as a catalyst for the development of deteriorated areas with a high concentration of vacant and deteriorated structures. The Initiative will identify properties that have the potential of being repaired and rehabilitated.
The Puerto Rico Department of Housing (PRDOH) plans on providing support and technical assistance to municipalities in the future to eradicate vacant properties.
PRDOH identified the need for a service provider with experience and capacity to implement the following tasks:
Conduct Regional Informative Meetings with CDBG-DR and PRDOH Central and Regional Staff, Municipalities and Communities.
Develop a methodology for creating a database, including the creation of an official definition of vacant properties to be inventoried.
Create a database at the Barrio level for each municipality.
Creation of templates for data collection and development of databases for the use of municipalities and PRDOH, along with the preparation of a Final Report.
On March 16th, 2023, PRDOH executed a direct selection memorandum with Centro para la Reconstrucción del Hábitat (CRH) so this entity can carry out the previously mentioned tasks.
Centro para la Reconstrucción del Hábitat (CRH) is the only nonprofit organization in Puerto Rico dedicated exclusively to addressing the problem of deteriorated and abandoned properties, with an integral and multisector approach.
It provides technical assistance to communities and local governments interested in rehabilitating deteriorated properties. CRH also conducts collaborative planning activities and promotes the implementation of strategies to transform these properties into assets for recovery, community development, and long-term resilience.
The entity’s approach is to support municipalities that have not implemented a vacant properties strategy due to lack of funding, capacity, or because of the perception that these processes are slow and expensive. CRH’s goal is to minimize the Island’s housing crisis by identifying abandoned properties in vulnerable communities.