The Biden administration on Monday freed up roughly $8 billion in disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico and lifted restrictions that curtailed how it could spend such funds in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the obligation of $8.2 billion in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds for the island. The move is the latest step from the Biden administration to accelerate the allocation of money for Puerto Rico and ease restrictions on the aid put in place during the Trump administration.
"The actions taken by HUD today will unlock access to funds Puerto Rico needs to recover from past disasters and build resilience to future storms, while ensuring transparency and accountability. We are committed to an ongoing partnership with Puerto Rico to empower the island’s communities and help them build back better," HUD Secretary Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeButtigieg has high name recognition, favorability rating in Biden Cabinet: survey Biden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package Black Caucus eager to see BBB cross finish line in House MORE said in a statement.
HUD said it would lift "onerous restrictions" put in place by the previous administration, including requirements that a Federal Financial Monitor review incremental grant obligations.
The Biden administration previously released $1.3 billion in relief funding to Puerto Rico in February in partnership with Puerto Rico's housing agency. The $1.3 billion, which was allocated by Congress, can be used to guard against future climate-related disasters.
Congress allocated more than $60 billion in aid for Puerto Rico after the 2017 hurricane devastated the island, knocking out its power grid and crippling its infrastructure. But only a fraction of that has been distributed to the territory thus far.