Public Housing in the Face of a Catastrophic Hurricane: Puerto Rico is Preparing

The Housing Industry is a remarkable key player making a difference in the life of the underserved population. That statement is an irrefutable fact, but even more so in times of crisis when the role of the Housing Industry is especially critical.

Recently, our beloved island, which is also a territory of the United States of America, has been impacted by Hurricane Irma. Thankfully, Irma took a last minute turn to the Northeast and ended up impacting the island with lesser Category One/Tropical Storm effects. The structural damage was minimal when considering what was expected to happen. However, the utilities and telecommunications framework was severely affected. Puerto Rico dodged a bullet… for now.

Hurricane Maria Coming Fast:

As I am writing this article, the island is preparing to be hit by the most dangerous and catastrophic Hurricane in the last 90 years, only comparable to Hurricane San Felipe which caused unparalleled damage to Puerto Rico back in 1928. Hurricane Maria is ready to leave its mark in the heart and soul of every Boricua, as is the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration (PRPHA).

The PRPHA is the second largest housing authority in the United States of America. With over 55,000 units across 340 properties, this PHA serves a large population and deals with some major challenges year after year. Located in the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico has an extensive recorded history related to Hurricanes and Tropical Storms which increases its vulnerability.

Puerto Rico Housing Authority’s Role In Diasters

The PRPHA is a first response agency in Puerto Rico. Always in direct contact with the local emergency agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the PRPHA is responsible for the coordination, inspection, administration and overall supervision and monitoring of the shelters provided by the Puerto Rico Government. Serving the needs of our population, the PRPHA is committed to help and guarantee the safety of our communities regardless of their social status.  As part of the Agency Plan and in coordination with other governmental organizations, the PRPHA coordinates to cover all the necessities before, during and after the impact of a natural disaster such as the one we will be facing within the next few hours.

Preparing For The Worst But Staying Positive:

By the time you read this article, the face of Puerto Rico will never be same. Not because of the obvious destruction, desolation and potential billions of damage to the governmental, private, and personal property. Puerto Rico’s face may never be the same, because of the opportunity that will be granted to its people to once again rebuild our beloved island. For that matter, the PRPHA will always be ready to represent the Housing Industry to perform its duty of making a difference in the life of others while working with the communities we serve to assist in rebuilding their lives.

***Special Note: We here at ^Housing-Futures thank Joaquin for his update during the beginning hours of the storm and wish the best to everyone who may be effected.***

Author: Joaquin Cintron Vega

The author is a Housing Industry professional with over eighteen years of experience that includes asset management, budgeting, accounting and finance. Has managed HUD Programs and budgets of over $300 million in Federal Funds. Vast experience with Mixed Finance transactions including Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Capital Financing Fund Program. Managed budgets for Central Office Cost Center, Operating Fund and Capital Fund Program. Past experience with the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration.

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