The Chairman of the Board of the Puerto Rico Builders Association (PRBA), Emilio Colón
Zavala, PE recently participated in the “Institute for Sustainable Development’s Forum on Housing Disaster Recovery”, that took place in the federal capital.
This forum, in which Colón Zavala participated as a guest, had the participation of officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). On his participation, the PRBA chairman spoke on the challenges posed to Puerto Ricans by the poor access to affordable housing before and after hurricanes Irma and María. In addition, he had the opportunity to point out how the highly bureaucratic processes of the federal agencies makes even more difficult the island recovery process, and the importance of simplifying the access to federal funds.
On his trip to the federal capital, Colón Zavala met with members of the Congress such as Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Rep. Rubén Gallego (D-AZ) and Rep. Lucille Royal-Allard (D-CA). He also had the opportunity to meet with Resident Commissioner, Rep. Jenniffer González. These meetings were possible thanks to the collaboration of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), who joined Colón Zavala in support of the PRBA’s message on the need to start with the reconstruction projects.
“Besides informing on the prevailing need to start with the reconstruction projects, we made the congressmen aware of the importance of streamlining processes and reducing bureaucracy in federal agencies. This, among other things, contributes to make even more difficult the access to affordable housing by Puerto Ricans. We also spoke on the need of working on the sluggishness in the process of getting the cost estimates required by FEMA and the proposal for the federal agency to accept and certify the estimates prepared by engineers licensed in Puerto Rico”, stated Colón Zavala.
On the other hand, it is extremely important that as part of the recovery programs, the housing affordability problem, accentuated by the ravages of hurricane María, to be addressed. “Construction cost have increased approximately by 30% since September 2017, this without taking into account the requirements imposed by the Federal Government on their programs. We understand that the impact of this programs will increase even more the cost of housing that proved to be safer in the aftermath of a natural disaster. These increments will adversely affect the access to safe housing”, said the chairman of the PRBA.
Ultimately, according to Colón Zavala, this historic juncture must be used to execute the
structural reforms needed to improve the ease of doing business in Puerto Rico. We must
execute our vision of placing ourselves among the top jurisdictions in the world in terms of
competitivity and ease of doing business, so that we can attract sustainable economic engines
that can help develop our economy once we run out one recovery funds.”