Today, Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett (D-VI) released the following statement regarding a letter sent from Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services Maxine Waters (D-CA), herself and several other members of Congress on the Department of Urban Development’s (HUD) recent announcement regarding the release of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to the Virgin Islands:
“Today my office along with Chairwoman Maxine Waters sent a letter to HUD Secretary Carson stating that conflating of any capacity issues in the Virgin Islands to unrelated challenges in Puerto Rico is absolutely inappropriate. The Virgin Islands Office of Disaster Recovery and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Agency have done a tremendous job to improve financial controls and procurement processes, monitor subrecipients, assist with increased staffing, and provide other assistance needed to safeguard all federal disaster recovery funds. Those local agencies have been working with HUD, along with other federal agencies like the Department of Interior, for the Virgin Islands to ensure the proper use of funds that Congress has provided. The fiscal situation of the Virgin Islands has been steadily improving. Any additional administrative requirements related to capacity issues should be tailored to address such issues, and any Federal Register notice should take that into account.
“In the letter, we highlight the Virgin Islands’ longstanding track record of compliance and oversight with disaster recovery programs and the importance of the immediate disbursement of this funding, which will help families who are still suffering from natural disasters and ensure that HUD is complying with the law.
“The letter, which was also signed [by] several members including Elijah Cummings, chair of the Oversight Reform Committee and Lacy Clay subcommittee chair of Housing, Community Development Insurance, states in the letter that the Virgin Islands has been and is prepared to do its part in helping its residents recover from devastating hurricanes. The Virgin Islands has a years’ long, solid track record of compliance and oversight with the CDBG program and disaster recovery programs. The letter states that HUD should reconsider as soon as possible its decision to exclude the Virgin Island’s CDBG-DR mitigation funding from being released at the same time as other grantees to prevent the delay of critical resources to help families rebuild their lives and ensure HUD is complying with the law.”