ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz is the founder and principal of the architectural firm Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón, with offices in Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
One of the ways to impulse our economy is to take advantage of all federal programs that focus on the Island’s recovery and reconstruction.
We’ve written about Puerto Rico’s planning and housing recovery funds, now we’ll tell you about the financial funds and resources available for economic and multi-sector projects.
THE ACTION PLAN
The Government of Puerto Rico Department of Housing (PRDOH) developed an “Action Plan” to govern the recovery and reconstruction of the Island under the commitment to administer the funds in an efficient and transparent manner.
The Action Plan is a document that brings together the strategies that will be used by the PRDOH to promote the recovery of Puerto Rico (after the passage of hurricanes Irma and María) through the implementation of economic and social assistance programs in five sectors: Planning, Housing, Economy, Infrastructure and Multi-sector.
Through the Action Plan, the Government of Puerto Rico will direct the implementation of the CDBG-DR Funds in order to mainly support recovery, reconstruction, economic revitalization and housing development initiatives in the Island.
The Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG – DR) Program was created to grant support to disaster recovery activities, including housing redevelopment and rebuilding. The program is responsible for assuring decent affordable housing opportunities, provision of services, assistance to those most vulnerable in our communities, career opportunities and the conservation of jobs.
The CDBG-DR Program is funded by the Disaster Recovery Program for community development of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Department of Housing of Puerto Rico has been designated as the entity responsible for administering this grant that will help in the recovery from disasters caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. This includes long-term recovery, restoration of housing, economic infrastructure, and revitalization.
1. CDBG-DR ECONOMY SECTOR
The CDBG-DR’s Economy Sector focuses on transforming Puerto Rico’s economic landscape through economic development initiatives. Some of the key programs that the CDBG-DR Economy Sector offers are the Economic Development Investment Portfolio Program and the Workforce Training Program.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO PROGRAM
The Investment Portfolio for Growth (IPG) Program has been allocated a total of eight hundred million dollars ($800,000,000) in the Puerto Rico CDBG-DR Action Plan to fund sizable development projects that are transformative in nature and create and retain Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) jobs.
The program intends to award gap funding for large-scale commercial and industrial development as well as a wide variety of economic revitalization initiatives. This may include the development/redevelopment of Commercial Developments, Mixed-use Developments and Infrastructure Development in support of an economic development investment.
Eligible entities for the IPG program include:
- For-profit Businesses
- Non-profit Organizations
- Community-based Economic Development Organizations
- Community Development Financial Institutions
- Units of General Local Government Agencies, Authorities, Trusts, and Boards
- Public-Private Partnerships
The IPG Program establishes the funding of projects that will significantly impact and enable the long-term economic growth and sustainability of the island.
WORKFORCE TRAINING PROGRAM
The Puerto Rico Department of Housing (PRDOH) launched the Work Force Training (WFT) Program to help unemployed and underemployed residents find employment by providing job training in skill areas and fields that will drive the economic recovery of Puerto Rico.
This program engages entities that train residents in industries that are expected to grow in the coming years such as: tourism and hospitality, computer programming and technology, shipbuilding, manufacturing, and healthcare.
Eligible Program Applicants must meet all the following requirements:
- Must be physically located in Puerto Rico, branch offices are acceptable.
- Must be running an existing training program with proven capacity or have a training curriculum developed for a new or expanded training program.
Funding of up to $90,000,000 is available under the WFT Program. This funding will allow applicant entities to expand their program offerings and/or improve spaces for training programs across the Island. Click here to read the rest of the program guidelines.
The CDBG-DR’s Multi-sector brings together the funds of multisectoral initiatives that incorporate aspects or provide benefits in each of the four sectors that make up the Action Plan. The most important program of the Multi-sector is the City Revitalization Program.
CITY REVITALIZATION PROGRAM
The City Revitalization Program (City-Rev Program) program establishes a fund for municipalities to enable a variety of critical recovery activities aimed at reinvigorating urban centers and key community corridors to focus investments, reduce sprawl, and create a symbiotic environment to nurture complimentary investments from the private sector.
The program allocates over one billion dollars ($1,298,000,000) from CDBG-DR funds to help shape and implement a future vision in communities that were affected by Hurricanes Irma and María. Through this funding, the PRDOH will support the seventy-eight municipal governments and other eligible organizations to undertake a variety of recovery activities aimed at reinvigorating downtown areas, urban centers, and key community corridors.
City-Rev Program applicants must be one of the following types of entities:
- Unit of General Local Government (Municipal Governments)
- Non-Governmental Organization (501(c)(3)) or Not for Profit Entities
The purpose of the program is to help create projects that will promote the redevelopment, re-greening and restoration of lost natural resources, and further incentivize private investments in restored urban areas. Learn more about the program by clicking here.
Using these economic and multi-sector funds at our disposal will allow us to rebuild our Island and communities. Let’s not waste this incredible opportunity!