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U.S. HOUSING SECRETARY CUOMO ANNOUNCES $29 MILLION IN AID FOR RECONSTRUCTION PROJECTS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced $29 million in additional disaster relief for the Dominican Republic to aid rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Georges.
The Secretary said the U.S. aid will be used to: spark economic development by assisting small business owners and farmers; fight disease by rebuilding sanitation systems and providing immunizations; and ease a housing shortage by repairing 2,500 damaged homes and rebuilding another 2,400 that were destroyed.
Cuomo came to the Dominican Republic to meet with Vice President Jamie David Fernandez Mirabal to discuss future cooperative efforts between the countries in housing and economic development, and to gather information about progress in disaster recovery.
In launching HUD's assistance for reconstruction efforts, Cuomo also participated in a roundtable discussion on disaster mitigation and building safer housing with representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations involved in the housing sector.
"The United States is committed to helping our neighbors in the Caribbean rebuild their communities, their homes and their lives after the devastation caused by Hurricane Georges," Cuomo said. "The damage caused by this powerful storm is more than a small nation can deal with alone."
The aid is part of a multimillion-dollar U.S. reconstruction package for housing and infrastructure projects in Central America, the Caribbean and Colombia.
As a first step in promoting safer housing, HUD and the U.S. Agency for International Development sponsored a two-day conference in Santo Domingo in May on reconstruction. The conference brought together organizations representing: the Dominican construction and housing industries; non-governmental organizations; lenders; and representatives from the National Institute for Housing, which is the Dominican public housing agency.
Topics discussed at the conference included: evaluating structural damages in different housing designs; developing designs to resist natural disasters; making squatter housing safer; developing basic building code requirements; and establishing acceptable risk policies.
As a result of the conference, recommendations made by HUD have been adopted to modify the type of design for replacement housing for hurricane victims that will increase their safety in the event of another natural disaster.
Future projects by HUD in the Dominican Republic include working to enhance building construction, strengthening disaster preparedness, and increasing the availability of home financing for low-income families.
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 total $1.7 billion.
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 is 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.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009