The Trump administration, specifically the Department of Housing and Urban Development, did not issue hurricane funding to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Secretary Ben Carson failed to meet the legally required deadline to provide emergency funds. A September 4th date was mandated by Congress and HUD ignored the deadline even while admitting they had no “statutory authority” to miss the September 4th date.
HUD officials told the House Appropriations subcommittee that they refused to give the territory billions in funding because Puerto Rico, because of corruption, would not manage the funds appropriately. By not publishing the notice for the territory, HUD is delaying the development of a plan to manage $10.2 billion in emergency funds.
“HUD needs to stop playing games,” said Kathy Bergin, director of the Disaster Law Project, to NBC. “Thousands of people in Puerto Rico are still living in dilapidated homes with tarp-covered roofs. What good does it do to formally allocate money for housing recovery, without a system that allows Puerto Rico housing officials to access those funds?” But HUD’s inspector general report found that there was no evidence of widespread corruption, according to Jeremy Kirkland, counsel to HUD’s inspector general.
The inspector general is now investigating to see whether HUD deliberately avoided giving Puerto Rico the funding needed to recover from hurricanes.