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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 98-468
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Thursday
Or contact your local HUD officeSeptember 24, 1998


SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced today that President Clinton has declared Puerto Rico a major disaster area, making millions of dollars in federal aid available to help the Commonwealth and its people recover from severe damage caused by Hurricane Georges.

Cuomo, who was sent to Puerto Rico by the President as the head of a federal delegation, said HUD's portion of the assistance includes up to $39 million in new emergency grants to the Puerto Rico Public Housing Authority. The funds will be used to help repair damage to public housing on the island. There are 57,065 units of public housing in Puerto Rico.

"In Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, in Haiti, in the Dominican Republic, businesses and homes have been swept away and lives have been lost," President Clinton said. "Secretary Cuomo is leading a delegation to Puerto Rico. I thank him for that."

"President Clinton has instructed us to do everything possible to help the people of Puerto Rico recover as quickly as possible from the terrible devastation of Hurricane Georges," Cuomo said. "No assistance can erase the pain and suffering of families victimized by this disaster, but the aid we provide can play a crucial role in helping families, businesses and communities rebuild and move forward."

Other HUD assistance to Puerto Rico includes:

  • A 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of homes hit by the disaster that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which is part of HUD. As a result, hurricane victims will not lose their homes if they are unable to make their mortgage payments for three months. In addition, HUD will work closely with lenders to restructure mortgages to help disaster victims keep their homes. There are 151,720 homes with FHA mortgages in Puerto Rico.

  • Allowing disaster victims to receive special mortgage insurance that enables them to finance the entire purchase price of a home, with no downpayment.

  • Giving Puerto Rico new flexibility to use $167 million that was earlier awarded to the Commonwealth by HUD for community development programs and $152.5 million that was awarded for public housing modernization. The $167 million can be used for a wide range of disaster relief activities and the $152.5 million can be used for disaster repairs at public housing developments.

  • Saving Puerto Rico up to $6 million by waiving a requirement that the Commonwealth provide matching funds to receive HUD assistance under the HOME program for affordable housing. Puerto Rico can use HOME funds for disaster relief as a result of the President's disaster declaration.

  • Sending disaster recovery specialists to Puerto Rico to help speed up rebuilding efforts.

Cuomo said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, HUD, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Labor, Department of Transportation and 21 other federal agencies are all working closely together to speed recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

As a result of the Presidential Disaster Declaration, other agencies will provide millions of dollars in additional assistance for Puerto Rico that includes:

  • Low-interest loans from federal agencies for many emergency relief and long-term recovery efforts to cover expenses not covered by state or local programs, or private insurance.

  • Cash grants for up to $13,400 for some individuals.

  • Temporary housing assistance to people whose homes were severely damaged.

  • Assistance from the Department of Veterans' Affairs to provide death benefits, pensions, insurance settlements and adjustments to home mortgages for veterans.

  • Tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service due to casualty losses.

  • Unemployment benefits to people losing their jobs because of the disaster.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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