HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 00-237
Further Information: For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685 11:30 a.m., Thursday
Or contact your local HUD office September 7, 2000


en Español

NEW YORK – Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and President Hipolito Mejia of the Dominican Republic announced today more than $2.8 million in HUD assistance to help the Caribbean country rebuild from the devastation caused by Hurricane Georges.

The assistance, to be used initially in metropolitan Santo Domingo, the capital, will help 12,500 Dominican households affected by the September 1998 storm and provide for repairs to more than 2,500 housing units. Hurricane Georges killed at least 300 Dominicans, destroyed some 48,000 homes belonging to mostly low-income people and badly damaged another 123,000 homes when it passed directly through the Dominican Republic.

"Most of this money will go to provide cash grants that hard-hit families will then use for down payments to reconstruct and improve their housing," Cuomo told a news conference. "As I said when I last visited the Dominican Republic in June 1999, every cloud has a silver lining. Hurricane Georges has given HUD and the United States the opportunity to do many things and form partnerships in the Dominican Republic that should have been done and formed anyway. So a good thing has come about from this tragedy."

Mejia, who was inaugurated as president last month, said: "I am pleased to receive this help from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in an area of vital importance for my country. Housing is one of the priorities of my administration and the program we are initiating today strengthens our projects to improve the quality of life for the neediest Dominicans. I trust that we will continue working together on new challenges and interesting programs."

Some $2.5 million of the assistance comes from the $10 million Congress gave HUD to help the Central American and Caribbean countries ravaged by Hurricanes Mitch and Georges. In the Dominican Republic, the assistance will provide:

  • $1 million to fund mortgage and home improvement loans for very low-income families in hurricane-devastated neighborhoods of Santo Domingo. The Dominican private sector will add its own funds, and work with Dominican non-governmental organizations and savings and loan institutions.

  • $434,000 to develop and deliver programs that train borrowers and lenders how to apply for and obtain mortgages and home improvement loans from the financial sector. Acción International, a leading U.S. micro-lender, will provide $109,000 of this assistance.

  • $850,000 in technical assistance for municipal reconstruction and disaster mitigation. A HUD-assembled team of U.S. and Dominican experts in architecture, planning, engineering, construction and environmental assessment will provide the Santo Domingo municipalities with technical assistance and training to address the challenges of squatter settlement redevelopment. HUD will also provide community development services to poor communities located in vulnerable locations such as riverbanks and areas subject to landslides.

  • $301,400, including $101,400 from the National Association of Home Builders Research Center, to train professional planners and municipal officials in the latest and most appropriate technology for addressing issues related to environmental disasters, and to train builders, community-based organizations and community leaders in selecting appropriate building materials and using techniques and construction technologies for safe, low-cost housing. The American Association of Urban Planners, prominent Dominican institutions such as the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at the Catholic University of Madre y Maestra in Santo Domingo, and Dominican government agencies will cooperate in this project.

  • $241,600 in program assistance and in-country support for the entire project.

The assistance is the latest HUD effort to help the Dominican Republic recover from the ravages of Hurricane Georges. President Clinton appointed Cuomo in September 1998 to head the U.S. federal response to the disaster, and the United States has provided some $76 million in recovery and reconstruction assistance to date.

Cuomo led an Administration and Congressional delegation to the Dominican Republic in late September 1998 and days after sent a HUD team to determine how the United States could best use its construction expertise to rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by the hurricane. In a follow-up visit in June 1999, Cuomo announced $29 million in additional U.S. disaster relief to aid rebuilding efforts and participated in a roundtable discussion on disaster mitigation and safer house building with Dominican officials and non-governmental representatives.


Content Archived: December 13, 2009