February 28, 2003
HUD SIGNS HISTORIC AGREEMENT WITH FOUR PUERTO RICAN MUNICIPALITIES TO ENHANCE PUBLIC HOUSING MANAGEMENT
Memorandum of Understanding to Improve Resident Services
GUAYNABO - In an effort to enhance services to public housing residents, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez, officials from four Puerto Rican municipalities and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico today signed a Memorandum of Understanding that transfers authority of five public housing developments from the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration to those localities.
Unlike the rest of the United States, where public housing is administered in part by local governments, in Puerto Rico all public housing was managed at the Commonwealth level.
"Today's historic signing marks a new day in the management and operations of public housing developments in these communities," said Martinez at a signing ceremony at the Los Alamos public housing development. "We've accomplished what many said would be impossible, but everyone remained focused on the goal of helping people and this MOU is a product of that good will."
Participating in the today's signing ceremony were mayors or representatives of the municipalities that are part of the MOU - Mayor William Miranda Marin of Caguas, Mayor Hector O'Neil of Guaynabo, Mayor Juan Aubin Cruz of Manati, Jose Zayas Cintron of Carolina, who represented, Mayor Jose Aponte de la Torre who was unable to attend today's ceremony. Also in attendance was Assistant Secretary Michael Liu, who heads-up HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing.
The MOU, effective April 1, implements a two-year pilot program that allows the municipalities to manage five public housing developments with a total of 1,395 units. The developments included are located in the respective municipalities. The public housing developments are: Los Alamos (376 units) in Guaynabo, Gautier Benitez (492 units) in Caguas, Sanchez Osorio and Cantanito Gardens (310 units combined) in Carolina, Los Murales (217 units) in Manati.
Under the MOU, the participating municipalities, which already administer HUD's Section 8 rental assistance program, will manage all operations of these developments on behalf of the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration (PRPHA). They will assume responsibility for modernization, demolition, development and homeownership opportunities for these developments.
The municipalities and the PRPHA will sign individual contracts for the operation of this pilot program. They will assume control from private contractors, who currently manage the developments for the PRPHA. PRPHA will provide the necessary resources - financial and otherwise - to the municipalities to manage the five developments.
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.
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