VIHFA Receives $779 Million Grant Agreement for Disaster Relief

Damage wrought on the islands by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. (File photo)
Damage wrought on the islands by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. (File photo)

Daryl Griffith, executive director of the V.I. Housing Finance Authority, announced Tuesday that the grant agreement for the second allocation of Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery funding totaling $779 million was recently transmitted from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development to U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan for signature.

This second tranche of CDBG-DR funding is in addition to the first tranche of $242,684,000 that the territory received in September 2018 and will bring the total allocation to $1.02 million, which HUD has approved for long-term recovery from the twin hurricanes Irma and Maria of 2017.

“We are excited that we are on our way to finally receiving this long-awaited second allocation of HUD funding,” Griffith said. “Our action plan for this funding was delivered on time and then approved by HUD last March.”

Griffith said receipt of the funds allows the territory to keep its recovery on track.

“After the agreement is fully executed, HUD informs VIHFA that the territory will have access to allocate the full $779 million for all approved disaster recovery projects.

Bryan thanked the federal agency and HUD Secretary Ben Carson for keeping his promise to deliver the funding before the end of the year.

“This second tranche of funding was crucial to our efforts at recovery and although it was delayed, these additional funds allow us to redouble our efforts toward recovering from Irma and Maria,” the governor said. “As our recovery from the hurricanes progresses, my administration remains dedicated to stabilizing the territory’s economy and rebuilding stronger for the future.”

More than $1 billion from tranche 1 and 2 CDBG-DR funding has been budgeted for various long-term housing recovery, infrastructure and economic revitalization projects, such as the EnVision Tomorrow housing and rental reconstruction program which was launched last spring, Water and Power Authority projects to restore and improve the electricity distribution, including purchasing four new energy-efficient generators, improvements to the territory’s ports and airports, and support for the tourism industry and workforce development.