February 14, 2019

HUD Response to Warren Inquiry Confirms that Shutdown Delayed Billions of Dollars of Disaster Relief Funds for Puerto Rico, USVI, Florida, California, Georgia, & Missouri

HUD Response to Sen. Warren Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) response to her January 21, 2019 letter expressing concerns that the Trump Administration used the recent shutdown as an excuse to stall the disbursement of housing funds for Puerto Rico, following reports that President Trump instructed his administration to cut off all disaster recovery funds to the island.

In his response letter, Len Wolfson, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at HUD, confirmed to Senator Warren that the government shutdown "did impact the pace of the Department's work," delaying access to disaster recovery funds for Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, Georgia, California, and Missouri. The HUD response revealed four actions related to Puerto Rico's disaster recovery funds that were delayed by the shutdown: approving minor modifications to Vivienda's (the Puerto Rican Department of Housing) Community Development Block Grant plan, accepting Vivienda staffing actions, extending ongoing technical assistance, and "providing responses to a range of policy issues."

The letter reveals that, with the shutdown over, there are now $8.2 billion in funds requested to be released for Puerto Rico, $779.2 million for the U.S. Virgin Islands, $157.7 million for Florida, $124.2 million soon for California, $37.9 million for Georgia, and $58.5 million for Missouri.

"Hurricanes Maria and Irma killed nearly 3,000 people-maybe more-and devastated Puerto Rico's infrastructure," said Senator Warren. "HUD's admission that the government shutdown delayed disaster relief funding for over a month is just the latest example of the Trump administration's shameful mishandling of disaster recovery in Puerto Rico and throughout the United States."

Senator Warren has proposed a Marshall Plan to rebuild Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and authored legislation to provide debt relief for the island. She has fought relentlessly for comprehensive disaster relief and adequate funding to sustainably rebuild devastated infrastructure since the hurricanes hit in September 2017.

For more information about Senator Warren's work fighting for robust recovery efforts for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands since Hurricanes Irma and Maria, visit www.warren.senate.gov/puertorico.