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HUD No. 99-211
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Friday
Or contact your local HUD officeOctober 8, 1999


en Espaņol

WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) President and CEO George Muņoz today signed a memorandum of cooperation to help low-income families in Central America and the Caribbean become homeowners through the creation of primary and secondary mortgage markets.

The first pilot effort of the agreement is planned to be a $20 million financing plan in Santo Domingo designed to help provide homes to up to 5,000 low-income families whose homes were destroyed last year by Hurricane Georges.

"This joint pilot project between our two agencies will help rebuild the lives and homes of many people in Central America and the Caribbean devastated by natural disasters," Cuomo said. "By bringing together HUD's technical expertise and OPIC's international experience, we will build homes and expand homeownership to families in these countries."

"This is a very important agreement between OPIC and HUD and will establish functional and sustainable housing programs for those Central American and Caribbean countries devastated by Hurricanes Georges and Mitch," Muņoz said. "By working together, we can bring fast results to the areas in greatest need of our assistance."

OPIC is a self-sustaining federal agency that provides political risk insurance, project financing and investment to American businesses seeking to expand into developing and emerging countries. The agency has supported $121 billion in international investment.

The project in Santo Domingo would utilize HUD's technical housing expertise in developing a financing mechanism and approach to implementation that will allow U.S. private sector investors to originate mortgages. This will allow low-income families to buy a home at highly competitive interest rates and reduced fees.

The City of Santo Domingo will donate plots of vacant land to build a low-rise planned community for hurricane victims.

The collaboration is one of several disaster relief projects that will be funded by HUD in part by a $10 million supplemental appropriation for international reconstruction efforts approved by Congress.

Approximately 600,000 people in the Dominican Republic were affected by the damage caused by Hurricane Georges last September. Estimated storm damages in the Caribbean to homes, roads and bridges, schools, airports and utilities totaled $1.7 billion. Estimated storm damages in Central America totaled $8.5 billion, with close to 6.5 million people affected.

President Clinton sent Cuomo to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, and the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico last year to report on actions the U.S. could take to help assist in rebuilding efforts after Hurricanes Mitch and Georges.

HUD and OPIC are bringing private sector and federal assistance to the area to build and repair thousands of homes, and has sent teams of experts to speed recovery. HUD's increased international efforts under Cuomo mark a revitalization of international activities by the Department which will provide HUD with information and data on the development and financing of low cost housing abroad.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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