Grant Announcement for Affordable Housing and Community Development


Thank you, Michael (Colon). Buenos Dias, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you all for coming.

I especially want to thank the mayors who have traveled here today. I know you are extremely busy. Thank you for finding time in your pressing schedules. Gracias...muchas gracias.

I am delighted to be accompanied by Susan Peppler, the new Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development at Housing and Urban Development. Susan's division of the department is a major part of our grant announcement, so I am happy she can join us.

Today we are pleased to announce a series of grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the current fiscal year. These grants for Puerto Rico total almost $152 million. The grants are awarded to the State government of Puerto Rico and 27 municipalities, including San Juan. The grants will help improve neighborhoods from the ground up, providing more comprehensive services through better infrastructure, through shelter for the homeless, and through more homes families can afford.

I know these grants will make a profound difference. They will help energize communities, help them move farther and faster toward their housing goals, better meeting the needs of the communities. These grants will provide a powerful and positive addition to services provided to those in need, to the local housing market and ultimately to the Puerto Rican economy.

A breakdown of the grants shows you the targeted constituencies.

Here are the grant totals. There is more than $108 million from our Community Development Block Grant Program. Susan spoke of this funding just a moment ago. The Community Development Block Grant Program is used to help meet challenges in development for states and local communities. This funding is used for the rehabilitation of affordable housing, the improvement of public facilities, and other aspects of community development. The funding is distributed to communities based on a statutory formula.

More than $30 million is from the HOME Investment Partnerships. The HOME Investment Partnerships Program is the largest federal block grant program. It is designed to produce affordable housing for low-income families.

There is almost $5 million is in Emergency Shelter Grants. The Emergency Shelter Grants help local communities meet the basic needs of people who are homeless and their families. You may have noticed I said "families." A report released last week show that about 30 percent of sheltered homeless are families, not just single men or women. This money will help provide a continuum of care to best meet the individual needs of each person who is homeless.

And almost $8 million is for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS. The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program grants are distributed to states and cities based on the number of AIDS cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grants provide resources for operating community residences, providing rental assistance and support services, and help fill gaps in local systems of care. When confronting AIDS, people often need help with their living situation while they undergo complex drug treatment and deal with the potential side effects of the treatment. So this program is one way to help.

Each of these programs is of vital value to the people of Puerto Rico. I'm a former mayor, and I know what this funding can mean to a city...programs, initiatives, and investments that help the people in the city. I know the mayors here are looking for answers, for productive partnerships, for the ways and means to help make their own cities work and thrive, to make them great places to live and raise a family. These grants will help make your cities - our cities - more successful through assistance to those who need shelter and affordable housing. By providing a continuum of care for the chronically homeless, or by helping a family afford that first home, or by giving housing opportunities for people with HIV/AIDS, we invest in our neighbors and in our communities.

The mayors here have a tremendous set of challenges every day. These grants will help them in their work and help the people they serve.

As a former Spanish teacher, it is such a pleasure to be here in San Juan, surrounded by the words of the beautiful Spanish language. It is a language I chose to learn out of great love of the words and the culture behind the words. I can't help but think of our language's greatest writer, Cervantes, and Don Quixote, his greatest creation. Don Quixote teaches us that every dream can become a reality, that we can make a profound difference with each moment in time, regardless of the critics around us. Cervantes is literature's greatest novelist precisely because Don Quixote overcame circumstances and difficulties, empowers the lowly and needy, sees what is possible, and is a source of respect and regard for all people. His quest brings respect and dignity to those who need assistance and compassion.

These grants are not an effort to tilt at windmills. They help bring real solutions to people who need us, to empower them, to help people become, in Cervantes words, "the architect" of their own destiny.

Thank you again for coming.


Content Archived: January 27, 2012