|HUD No. 16-077
May 20, 2016
**PUERTO RICO TRIP REPORT**
HUD SECRETARY JULIÁN CASTRO HIGHLIGHTS AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGIES, ZIKA VIRUS PROTECTION IN PUBLIC HOUSING
Above: HUD Secretary Julián Castro hears from Puerto Rico Housing Secretary Alberto Lastra about efforts to combat Zika virus in public housing while visiting with an expectant mother and her family. In February, the Obama Administration requested $1.9 billion in emergency funding from Congress to fight Zika. Photo by HUD Public Affairs. Full album here (https://www.flickr.com/photos/hudopa/).
San Juan, Puerto Rico - This week, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro traveled to Puerto Rico for a series of events to discuss affordable housing strategies, economic development, and the Obama Administration's efforts to combat the threat of the Zika virus on the island. Joining Secretary Castro throughout the week were Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla and Alberto Lastra, Secretary of Housing of Puerto Rico.
While in Puerto Rico, Secretary Castro announced HUD will be investing $200 million to help develop and rehabilitate 750 units of affordable housing in seven locations across the island. The investment will be made in support of the Puerto Rico Comprehensive Housing Plan, which is a 10-year effort with the Puerto Rico Department of Housing that will ultimately develop or rehabilitate 10,000 units of housing.
"We want to send a direct message to the people of Puerto Rico: we believe in you, we believe in your future, and we want to support you as you write your comeback story," Secretary Castro said at the announcement event. "The announcement represents another important step in lifting up the people of Puerto Rico. And HUD is going to continue working with the Governor, the Secretary of Housing Alberto Lastra Power, and a coalition of local leaders to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Puerto Rico is, and always should be seen as an asset to our nation's future. Let's work together to ensure that this future puts opportunity within reach of every American."
Also joining for a portion of the visit to Puerto Rico were: Jose Calderon, President, Hispanic Federation; Robert Maldonado, President, Hispanic National Bar Association; Janet Murguia, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza; and Brent Wilkes, Executive Director, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The delegation participated in briefings on Puerto Rico's debt crisis, the fight against Zika virus, and affordable housing strategies.
In an effort to learn more about Zika virus protection in public housing, Secretary Castro later visited with an expectant mother and her family living at the Residencial Ernesto Ramos Antonini housing development. In February, President Obama submitted a funding request to Congress for emergency supplemental funding to fortify the Administration's efforts to combat the virus. Congress is currently considering proposals to provide the people of Puerto Rico with resources to fight the spread of the disease.
Secretary Castro also highlighted the Obama Administration's significant efforts to address the fiscal crisis that has threatened more than three million Americans in Puerto Rico, including support for Congressional action to allow the Commonwealth to restructure its debt. This week, a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress (H.R. 5278) as a first step toward giving Puerto Rico the tools to restructure its debt, enact fiscal reforms, and create a foundation for economic recovery after a decade of recession.
In events across Puerto Rico this week, Secretary Castro:
- Toured the 74-unit Balseiro Elderly housing development and met with residents;
- Visited the Puerta de Tierra neighborhood and later announced $200 million in funding to support a local affordable housing strategy that will advance Puerto Rico's Comprehensive Housing Plan;
- Visited the Residencial Ernesto Ramos Antonini housing development in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico to meet with residents and gain a better understanding of how Zika virus protection measures, including mosquito screen installation, are impacting their families;
- Met with 60 young Boys and Girls Club members who live in public housing to discuss the impact of the Club on their lives. The meeting also highlighted the Administration's My Brother's Keeper initiative, which is committed to addressing persistent opportunity gaps and ensuring boys and young men of color can reach their full potential;
- Inaugurated the Center for Social Innovation of Puerto Rico, which will offer capacity-building and training opportunities for the Commonwealth's agencies and non-governmental entities regarding, among other activities, the implementation of community development and affordable housing programs;
- Met with HUD's Puerto Rico Field Office employees;
- Visited the San Juan National Historic Site with a group of local students to highlight President Obama's Every Kid in a Park initiative; and
- Met with Governor Padilla to discuss strategies to increase the supply of affordable housing, the fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico, and public health strategies on the island.
Click here (https://www.flickr.com/photos/hudopa/) to view and download the full album of photos from Secretary Castro's visit.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov.
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