Press Releases

CONGRESSWOMAN STACEY E. PLASKETT RESPONDS TO RECENT HUD ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING HURRICANE RECOVERY FUNDS

Washington, August 5, 2019

For Immediate Release                             Contact: Michael J. McQuerry

August 5, 2019                                          202-215-8524

 

PRESS STATEMENT

CONGRESSWOMAN STACEY E. PLASKETT RESPONDS TO RECENT HUD ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING HURRICANE RECOVERY FUNDS

Washington, DC — Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett released the following statement on the announcement by HUD to segregate the territories from the states in the manner that mitigation funds will be disbursed:

“The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that the third block of funding which will be used for mitigation activities, will be released for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands separately from other disaster-impacted areas. 

“As a point of clarification from recent reporting, according to HUD, while the segregation of releasing funds is due to alleged corruption in the case of Puerto Rico - for the Virgin Islands, HUD has stated that it is due to a lack of capacity at agency level to be able to spend these funds efficiently. 

“I acknowledge that government agencies in the Virgin Islands will be tasked with handling hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds, an unprecedented task that will challenge the government’s capacity to process such a large amount of funding.  The increase in funding will be hundreds of times what is normally handled and a sufficient number of staff will be needed to properly monitor and evaluate grants while keeping pace with the administrative requirements to properly expend these much needed funds. 

“That is why I worked in the last Congress to fund the Department of Interior with funding which created the Office of Disaster Recovery (ODR). ODR and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Agency have done a tremendous job to improve financial controls and procurement processes, monitor subrecipients, assist with increased staffing, and provide other assistance needed to safeguard all federal disaster recovery funds.  Those local agencies and the Department of Interior have been working together aggressively for the Virgin Islands to be able to utilize the funds that Congress has allocated for it.

"As a matter of record, I successfully had language included in the recently passed Disaster Relief Act of 2019, which requires HUD to issue such guidance for all areas no later than September 4, 2019. That deadline includes HUD issuing notice in the Federal Registry Notice on guidance for this third round of funding they would like to delay. That delay cannot be beyond September 4.

“I have been in discussion with Governor Bryan and have spoken with the Virgin Islands legislature. We have done our work and followed the rules. The Virgin Islands will not be segregated or lumped with Puerto Rico for political or any other expedience. I’m calling on the Governor and the legislature to be aggressive on this issue to stand our ground and ensure we receive all the funding we have worked hard to secure and rightly deserve in a timely manner”

###