Congress appropriated at least $136.1 billion in disaster relief funds, according to an analysis from the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. While the money goes to an array of local and federal agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are two of the most crucial agencies in the recovery process.
The federal government has disbursed more than $3.7 billion for FEMA to finance local government grants to complete debris removal, public infrastructure repairs and give direct aid to affected individuals, according to numbers provided by FEMA spokesman Juan A. Rosado-Reynés.
On Feb. 2, Rosselló announced HUD authorized the disbursement of the first $1.5 billion of a total of $20 billion granted through the agency’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program for infrastructure repairs and rebuilding homes. Puerto Rico originally expected to receive part of this money in January, but the longest government shutdown in U.S. history delayed the process. Some of the CDBG-DR funds are set to finance 28 programs in Puerto Rico, some similar to the one Annie Mayol runs.
Mayol is the president and chief operating officer at the Foundation for Puerto Rico, a not-for-profit organization based in the U.S territory that seeks to promote opportunities for social and economic development with the help of a network of smaller community groups. She recently partnered with Puerto Rico’s Housing Department to create the first community-focused reconstruction program set to be funded with $37.5 million in CDBG-DR funds.