April 17, 2003
HUD HELPS PUERTO RICO CREATE HOMEOWNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
Agreement Puts HOPE VI Complex Back on Track
SAN JUAN - The U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Housing of
the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico yesterday entered into an agreement to return
the Commonwealth's HOPE VI Program to local control.
The termination agreement signed by HUD Assistant Secretary Michael Liu and Secretary of Housing of the Commonwealth ends the almost two-year HUD receivership of the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration's (PHPHA) HOPE VI Program.
"We are pleased the housing administration now has the capacity to manage this funding," said Liu, who heads HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing. "The agreement allows for the continued redevelopment of the public housing."
Among other components, the agreement requires PRPHA to reimburse HUD $7.4 million for ineligible expenses charged to the HOPE VI program. HUD will add these funds to the homeownership component of the HOPE VI grant, which will make available more than 100 existing homes to eligible families.
In July 2001, HUD entered into a voluntary agreement with the Puerto Rican governor and the Department of Housing that transferred possession of the assets and projects of its HOPE VI program to HUD. The action followed a March 2001 HUD Inspector General audit of the program that revealed egregious mismanagement of HUD funds.
After HUD assumed control of the agency's HOPE VI program, HUD installed standard operating procedures for administering the HOPE VI grant and balanced its budget to bring it in line with remaining HOPE VI funds. HUD also took other administrative steps to get the grant to the point of local control.
In 1994, the PRPHA received a $50 million HOPE VI grant to redevelop the Crisantemos and Manuel A. Perez public housing developments. Los Jardines de la Nueva Puerta (formerly Crisantemos) contains 40 family and 40 elderly rental units and a community center, and was available for occupancy in September 2001.
Including the $7.4 million that HUD will add back to the grant, the PRPHA has $23.6 million remaining in its HOPE VI grant. Of this amount, $10.6 million will be used to complete construction and rehabilitation of a portion of the Perez development, which includes 176 family units and a community center and Head Start building. The remaining $13 million will be used for the Homeownership Initiative.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet.