According to an investigation by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York and the School of Planning at the University of Puerto Rico – the increase in vacant homes may have increased exponentially with the blow of Hurricane Maria.

According to Edwin Meléndez, professor of planning at the institution of New York, for 2016 the United States Census Bureau estimated that of a total of 1.5 million homes on the island, some 257,798 (18%) residences were uninhabited, creating an excess of supply that results in the devaluation of properties.

This situation, which places Puerto Rico as the US jurisdiction with the largest number of vacant houses, emerged in 2006 as a result of the local financial crisis, which has caused high migration rates. After the natural phenomenon of last September, these moving figures grew. By February of this year, Hunter College estimated, some 135,000 Puerto Ricans had left the island, an amount that today should represent about 200,000, and that in the coming years will continue to increase.

“This is the result of Puerto Rican migration, which is a result of the economic crisis. Those are our projections, our estimates. That net flow of a whole previous decade is doubled in only two or three years after Maria. The exodus of ten years will be replicated in two or three years. That is a very strong finding that awaits Puerto Rico, ”said the academic at a press conference.

The municipalities with the largest number of vacant houses are urban centers such as San Juan, Carolina, Caguas and Arecibo. On the contrary, the area of ​​the mountainous center of the country represents the lowest figure.

The academic publication argues that the high supply of homes, compared to the decrease in demand, caused a 10% drop in its average value since 2005. Some towns, such as San Juan and Lares, have experienced a decline of up to 30.2 % in the price of some properties.