Rep. Soto Speaks Out Against HUD Illegal Withholding of Puerto Rico Aid

December 5, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09) joined other Members of Congress for a press conference to mark 90 days since the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) broke the law.  The Department ignored a statutory deadline to issue a Federal Register notice detailing how Puerto Rico can use $8.2 billion in disaster relief aid appropriated by Congress through the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program and continues to withhold $1.9 billion for electric grid upgrades. Puerto Ricans continue to suffer from major hurricanes that made landfall more than two years ago while HUD illegally withholds this aid.

Rep. Soto delivered the following remarks at the press conference:

“Puerto Rico suffered the disaster that was Hurricane Irma. They suffered the disaster that was Hurricane Maria, and now they suffer from the disaster of the lawless Presidency of Donald J. Trump. We know the games they’re playing. They’re requiring local governments with no money to try and put up funding when they have no ability to do that. They’re slow-rolling contracts, asking for additional details, beyond additional details, beyond additional details, that states like Texas and Florida have already been able to rebuild with. When you land in San Juan like I’ve done many times, much of the city looks back to normal, other than a few buildings, but when you go out to the suburbs and the countryside, it’s unmistakable. It looks like the hurricane just happened last week. When you go to places like Canóvanas, or Lares, or Utuado, where more than half the homes there are in disrepair and people are waiting for funds to rebuild. You go to Vieques, they got a hospital that hasn’t been open in years and cancer patients and diabetes patients need to go on a boat just to get back to the island for healthcare. When you look at schools that have been closed and mold has set a hold on these places where they can’t even be opened right now, you truly understand the devastation that is withholding these funds,” said Rep. Soto.

“We allocated $42 billion in February 2018. It’s unfathomable that most of this money hasn’t gotten there yet,” said Rep. Soto. “So, the question is, President Trump are you going to end your personal vendetta against Puerto Rico and finally do the right thing? These are Americans down on the island. Over 3.1, 3.2 million people who every day face the same indignation from your inaction, your anger against the island. It’s time to finally be Presidential and do the right thing for my brothers and sisters on the island.”




Congressman Darren Soto represents Florida’s 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Osceola County, as well as parts of Orange and Polk counties.

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