The Use of only 2% of CDBG-DR Available Funds Shows Puerto Rico Government’s Slow Spending

Of the $20.2 billion recovery funds allocation granted after Hurricane María through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program (CDBG-DR), Puerto Rico has been approved to use only 16%, or, $3.2 billion. Of the money available, the government had used a mere 2%, as of June 30, the end of fiscal year 2020. The bureaucratic process and restrictions by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), coupled with the government of Puerto Rico’s ongoing staffing and planning changes, influence the delay in the disbursement of money, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) found. Some $67 million had been disbursed, at the end of the fiscal year, on June 30, according to the federal interagency Recovery Support Function Leadership Group (RSFLG), that is, 76% of what was projected by the 2020 Fiscal Plan certified by the Fiscal Control Board. Some of the recovery projects have been shifted to a different agency in charge; others have been canceled.

El uso de un 2% del dinero disponible refleja la lentitud del Gobierno de Puerto Rico en el gasto de fondos CDBG-DR

De los $20.2 mil millones asignados en fondos de recuperación luego del huracán María mediante el programa Subvención en Bloque para el Desarrollo Comunitario para Recuperación ante Desastres (CDBG-DR, en inglés), Puerto Rico tiene la aprobación para utilizar apenas un 16%, es decir, $3.2 mil millones. De ese dinero disponible, el Gobierno solo ha usado 2%, al cierre del año fiscal 2020. El proceso burocrático y las restricciones del Departamento de Vivienda federal, sumados a los cambios continuos de personal, y de planes del Gobierno de Puerto Rico, inciden en la demora del desembolso del dinero, encontró el Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI). Al cierre del año fiscal, el 30 de junio, se habían desembolsado $67 millones, según la oficina interagencial federal Recovery Support Function Leadership Group (RSFLG), es decir, un 76% de lo proyectado por el Plan Fiscal 2020 certificado por la Junta de Control Fiscal. Algunos de los proyectos de recuperación han cambiado de agencia responsable; otros han sido cancelados.

Fishermen in Puerto Rico Approach Third Year Without Receiving Funds for Losses After Hurricane María

Three years after Hurricane María made landfall, fishermen in Puerto Rico have not seen a penny of aid funding to cover losses caused by the storm, several fisheries have not yet been repaired and others have been unable to resume their normal work due to lack of equipment, boats or ramps. At worst, some have closed down. The bureaucracy in the management of the funds, coupled with neglect in how the procedures were handled by the Department of Agriculture, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) have been the obstacles to access to money, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) found. “We would have been better off if we had been swept away [by the hurricane]. [The Department of] Agriculture told us they didn’t know what to do with us.