March 26, 2003
HUD ASSISTANT SECRETARY LIU IMPLEMENTS HISTORIC AGREEMENT TO ENHANCE PUBLIC HOUSING MANAGEMENT IN CAGUAS, PR
First Contract Executes Memorandum of Understanding to Improve Resident Services
CAGUAS - HUD Assistant Secretary Michael Liu today participated in the signing of a historic contract that will transfer authority of the Gautier Benitez public housing development to the City of Cauguas.
Liu joined Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin, Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Housing Ileana Echegoyen Santalla and Administrator of the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration Carlos Laboy Diaz for the signing outside the Gautier Benitez public housing development. With this signing, Caguas will assume responsibility for providing resident services and maintenance of the 492-units at this development.
"Both the City of Caguas and the PRPHA have cooperated with HUD and committed
hundreds of hours of staff time to make this concept real," said Liu, who
heads-up HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing. "You have looked to
the future, rather than the past. You have shown your collective commitment
to the welfare of the residents of Gautier Benitez."
This if the first of four contracts that will be signed by Puerto Rican municipalities to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed last month that transfers authority from the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration (PRPHA) 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.
On February 28th in the City of Guaynabo, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez, officials from four Puerto Rican municipalities and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico signed the MOU.
Mayor Miranda Marin participated in that MOU signing ceremony with Mayors Hector O'Neil of Guaynabo, Juan Aubin Cruz of Manati, and Jose Zayas Cintron of Carolina, who represented, Mayor Jose Aponte de la Torre who was unable to attend the ceremony. Also in attendance was Assistant Secretary Liu.
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. In addition to Gautier Benitez, the participating public housing developments are: Los Alamos (376 units) in Guaynabo, 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 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.