09/04/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/04/2019 16:04
For Immediate Release Contact: Michael J. McQuerry
September 4, 2019 202-215-8524
CONGRESSWOMAN STACEY E. PLASKETT ANNOUNCES THE ALLOCATION OF OVER $744 MILLION TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS IN CDBG GRANT FUNDS BY HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett released the following statement announcing the allocation of $744,188,000 of Community Development Block Grant mitigation funds for the Virgin Islands:
'I received a call today from Secretary Ben Carson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in response to my letter written on August 20, 2019 regarding HUD's compliance with Congress' requirement to issue a Federal Notice by September 4, 2019 on the allocation of $744 Million of Community Development Block Grant mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds to the Virgin Islands. These recovery funds allocated today are provided through HUD's Community Development Block Grant Program and are part of the hard fought battle here in Congress to appropriate funding specifically to the Territories. The CDBG program is an important tool for helping local governments tackle serious challenges, and has made a difference in the lives of millions of people across the Nation recovering from major disasters like hurricanes.
'Secretary Carson informed me that HUD would be meeting the requirement to issue the notice by today, September 4th regarding use of the CDBG mitigation funds and applicable rules, statues and grant conditions along with other required reporting. In the conversation, Secretary Carson acknowledged that the US Virgin Islands is in fact different than Puerto Rico in use of federal funding to date, and he did not dispute the work being done by The Virgin Islands Office of Disaster Recovery (VIODR) and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Agency (VIHFA) to improve financial controls and appropriately utilize funds.
'The Secretary did insist that because the Virgin Islands has never managed this amount of funding and that capacity needs will need to be addressed, although he was not forthcoming on what exactly needed to addressed. My office will be reviewing the notice to determine what HUD believed was necessary to meet the additional administrative requirements related to capacity issues. We will of course consult with those on the ground, VIODR, VIHFA, Property and Procurement and the Office of the Governor to determine next steps. This crucial funding will help the Virgin Islands to address disaster-related deficiencies in housing, public services, and infrastructure, as determined by local officials with citizen input. The Federal Government must continue to serve an ongoing role in supporting the people of the Virgin Islands as we recover from the destruction caused by recent Hurricanes.'