San Juan, P.R. – Citi Community Development and four Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counseling organizations announced today an initiative to provide urgently-needed housing assistance in Puerto Rican communities affected by Hurricane Maria. The initiative will help thousands of families across the Commonwealth recover from the devastation of the storm by securing housing solutions and providing essential housing services, such as support for home repairs, free housing counseling, and other vital recovery resources, to renters and homeowners alike.
Supported by $500,000 in funding from Citi Community Development, the four participating housing organizations—Puerto Rico NHS, Ponce Neighborhood Housing Services, Pathstone and One Stop Career Center of Puerto Rico—will collaborate with municipalities and community leaders to target some of the island's hardest-hit communities. Residents are currently in need of a broad spectrum of assistance that will be addressed through this initiative, including financial assessments; connections to local resources; and consultations on mortgage forbearances, insurance claims and FEMA applications. In addition, this initiative will directly support the reconstruction of homes by making repairs to doors, windows, and roofs damaged by the storm.
"I'd like to thank Citi for teaming with four outstanding Puerto Rican organizations to help in this ongoing time of crisis," said Ricardo Rosselló, Governor of Puerto Rico. "Housing is one of the most fundamental and pressing needs, and this support will help many families receive the assistance and funding required to rebuild and get back on their feet."
"Months after the storms have passed, thousands of Puerto Ricans are facing displacement and deep financial instability, with few, if any options to turn to for assistance," said Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. "By partnering with trusted, locally-based housing organizations, we are able to provide access to vital counseling, repairs and other housing support services to assist hundreds of Puerto Rican families as they begin to stabilize and rebuild their homes and their lives."
"Thank you to Citi for helping our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico. Housing is the glue that helps hold a family together and this effort will provide desperately needed resources to jumpstart their road to recovery," said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY).
Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017—two weeks after Hurricane Irma—leaving behind massive devastation to vital infrastructure, property and homes.
In some communities, 80 to 90 percent of homes were completely destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of housing units across the island were severely damaged, often leaving low-income families particularly hard hit. Thousands of Puerto Ricans were displaced to shelters, and many forced to stay with family members or move into hotels, while more than 200,000 have relocated to the U.S. Research conducted by Enterprise Community Partners shortly after the storm estimated that more than 150,000 (roughly 10 percent) of homes will need to be rebuilt, and tens of thousands will need to be repaired.
"During nearly 100 years in Puerto Rico, Citi has strived to support the development and progress of all of the Commonwealth's communities," said Guillermo Gomez, Citi's Chief Officer for Puerto Rico. "This new investment will ensure residents, especially those living on lower incomes, get the housing support they urgently need, and is a further demonstration of Citi's commitment to Puerto Rico and its ongoing recovery and renewal."
At the time of the storms, Puerto Rico was already in a decade-long economic recession, with nearly half of residents living below the poverty line; according to a recent survey conducted by the Census Information Center at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey, the poverty rate could potentially reach 59.8 percent given the length of recovery.
Collectively, the organizations aim to serve an estimated 2,000 individuals and families, and will also support the reconstruction of nearly 100 homes. In addition, PathStone will provide assistance to over 85 small business owners whose businesses were badly damaged and whose incomes have been severely disrupted.
Blanca Vélez Beachamp, Executive Director, Puerto Rico, N.H.S., Corp. said, "After visiting our facilities impacted by Hurricane María, and assessing the priorities and needs of our communities, we started by providing them with comfort - hugs, water and food – and showing them they were not alone and that we were there to help. In order to start offering our help, we needed committed partners who could understand the anguish of our people, and we went to Citi - our partner for 23 years. Immediately, Citi showed their commitment to help us. Our community needed many things, but the most urgent were roofs and houses where they could re-establish their homes.
Today, thanks to Citi's help, construction of safe roofs and stable houses has started for three of the 20 Comunidad Alto El Cabro families impacted by the hurricane. We have started making our dream a reality, and we thank Citi for being an example for Puerto Ricans! This is a great example of how the private sector and the nonprofit organizations can work together."
"In difficult times, it is when we demonstrate our commitment and dedication," said Elizabeth Rivera, Executive Director, Neighborhood Housing Services. "Ponce NHS has been hand-in-hand with affected families and communities in the south and central areas of the island during this time of crisis. We have offered humanitarian relief, housing counseling, foreclosure prevention and other services that have defined our organization for the past 24 years. This has been possible thanks to collaborations with organizations, such as Citi, who has supported us financially and provided a friendly hand we can rely on. Thank you Citi for believing in Ponce NHS, its communities and its people. Puerto Rico will come out ahead!"
"PathStone has provided critically important services including housing, employment and business lending in the south, west and central region of Puerto Rico for more than 20 years. Our work is possible thanks to collaboration of organizations as Citi who provided financial assistance to support our disaster recovery efforts. Funds received from Citi will allow PathStone to provide immediate relief to families affected by Hurricane Maria with grants for housing rehabilitation in the Municipalities of Utuado, Jayuya, Ponce, Salinas and Guayama, among other services. We thank Citi for this and all other support to PathStone," said Maria Rodriguez, Director of Housing Programs of PathStone Corporation.
"After the hurricane, One Stop Career Center of Puerto Rico has been providing services, including assistance to people who were denied FEMA funds, free legal assistance, and guidance and financial assistance to those who requested a moratorium," said Carmen Cosme, Executive Director, One Stop Career Center of Puerto Rico. "Our team managed to provide food to more than 500 families in the south central zone. We assisted more than 75 people with HIV; providing them with basic necessities and temporary housing. One Stop conducted a needs assessment in the Candelaria neighborhood of Toa Baja benefiting several families, evaluating affected homes and providing mattresses, diapers for adults and children and other aid. Thanks to Citi's support, we are now working to rehabilitate homes of families that have been affected by Hurricane Maria through the support of our program participants."
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Citi Community Development
Citi Community Development leads Citi's commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Through innovative collaborations with municipalities, community groups and leading nonprofit organizations, we harness Citi's expertise, products and services to help expand opportunity for all.
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Puerto Rico Neighborhood Housing Services, Corp.
Puerto Rico Neighborhood Housing Services, Corp. (Puerto Rico NHS) is a Private, Non-profit, Community base organization, providing Financial, Housing and Foreclosure Prevention Education and Counseling. Also, it offers loans for home purchases, rehabilitation and energy saving appliances. An organization with 22 years of experience working with low income residents, Educating and Counseling them how they can become homeowners in a responsible way. Also, how they can overcome a Financial Crisis and maintain their houses avoiding foreclosure risk. In 2011 Puerto Rico NHS, Corp. was chosen as the Grantee to manage EHLP Program, a federal initiative to help thousands of residents facing foreclosure around the nation.
In 2015, the organization was recognized as a NeighborWorks America GREEN Organization due to its initiatives to save resources like water and energy, and to protect the environment. The organization was included in the NeighborWorks Works: Practical Solutions Book for its initiative of Work With Sensibility in the Crisis, at the Foreclosure Prevention Center, in year 2016.
Ponce Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc.
Ponce Neighborhood Housing Services (Ponce NHS) is a community based/HUD certified nonprofit with more than 20 years providing assistance and services regarding the purchase and rehabilitation of low- and moderate-income housing in the Southern and central region of Puerto Rico. They also provide first time homebuyer, financial capability and foreclosure prevention education/counseling, in addition to community building, development and engagement initiatives. The organization collaborates with various municipalities in P.R.
PathStone is a nonprofit organization that works with communities in New York, Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia and Puerto Rico. Currently, PathStone provides various services including employment, small business loans, housing and continues to advocate for the rights of farm workers, individuals and low income communities with economic and social disadvantage.
One Stop Career Center of Puerto Rico
One Stop Career Center of Puerto Rico is a private non-profit organization 501 (C) (3) established in 2000, with the compromise of developing and strengthening the community structures emphasizing in three initiatives, education, health and housing for laid off workers, offenders and returning citizens (ex-offenders), single parents, individuals with disabilities, the elderly, youth and other socio economically disadvantaged populations in urban and rural areas.