Has federal help for Puerto Rico to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria been delayed?

Tuesday, June 8, 2021
By Jacob Alabab-Moser

Federal assistance to Puerto Rico following two destructive hurricanes in 2017 has experienced significant delays. The causes include strained federal and local capacity, reimbursement and application processes that have been more onerous for Puerto Rico than for similar aid to states, and Trump administration concerns about corruption in the territory.

Aid has been channeled primarily through three federal agencies—the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The New York Times reported that only 0.7% of HUD funds—$138 million of $20 billion approved by Congress—had been released as of April 2021. At HUD, lengthy interagency negotiations and the 2018-2019 government shutdown also delayed the process.

In April, the department released $8.2 billion in funds and removed various grant restrictions.

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