Puerto Rico makes aid contingent on homeowners moving out of flood-prone areas

Puerto Rico is making aid to homeowners rebuilding after Hurricane Maria contingent on them moving out of flood-prone areas.

"We need to move families to a safe place," Luis Burdiel Agudom president of the government-owned Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico, said Monday, according to The Wall Street Journal

After cyclones wreck property, governments conducting aid efforts often try to get residents of flood-prone areas to move to safer locations, the Journal reports. 

Puerto Rico is taking a tough stance on the issue.


According to the Journal, most local governments give homeowners the choice between raising their house or taking a buyout to move somewhere safer.

However, elevating a home costs around $44,000, according to government estimates, which is particularly challenging for Puerto Rico, where the median home value is about $100,000.

Those who remain in flood-prone areas also require flood insurance, which is difficult to obtain given the low income rate on the island, according to the Journal. 

So Puerto Rico is withholding aid entirely unless residents move. 

The Puerto Rican government will receive $20 billion in federal funding to rebuild after hurricane Irma and Maria, which hit last year, and prepare for future storms, the Journal reports. 

Now, thousands of the more than 100,000 homeowners will have to choose between staying in their current property or rebuilding their homes. 

One resident of a flood-prone section of Puerto Rico, Norma Judith Colón, said she wasn't moving despite the ultimatum.

"I wouldn't leave here. I was born and raised here," Colón told the Journal. "Our community is very united. ... We are not going to allow it."

Colón told the Journal she did not know how she would pay to fix her home.