The Mapp administration has released its action plan for the first allocation of Community Block Development Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds of $243 million, announced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.) on St. Thomas in February. An additional $1.6 billion for the territory was announced in April, and the Mapp administration has said the funds will be used to address unmet needs in housing, infrastructure, and economic revitalization.
In a release issued Saturday, the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (V.I.H.F.A.) said future CDBG-DR funds will also assist with the energy grid and mitigation activities to better protect the territory from future extreme weather. The local government has estimated that Hurricanes Irma and Maria left damages totaling $10.8 billion in their wake.
The areas where the Mapp administration intends to spend the first $243 million, has been listed in the chart below.
According to the plan, “The territory will commit $75 million from Tranche 1 to make its infrastructure more resilient. A repair and resilience program, with a $23 million allocation from Tranche 1, will be dedicated to repair and reconstruction of public infrastructure, including roads and hardening of critical facilities and networks. Further, $45 million will be used for an Electrical Power Systems Enhancement program focused on the transformation of the electrical power generation capacity, including renewables and the modernization of the transmission and distribution network.” See the full plan here.
The plan further states that the U.S. Virgin Islands “will also invest in programs to catalyze the territory’s economy, prioritizing shovel-ready projects to revitalize tourism by boosting air and maritime connectivity. The Ports and Airports Enhancement program, supported by $30 million from Tranche 1, aims to stabilize and grow the tourism industry through key improvements to ports and airports that will increase the Territory’s capacity to receive tourists.”
V.I.H.F.A. said it has been designated as the lead agency for the administration of the CDBG-DR funds. Therefore, as part of the what the authority called the “citizen participation process”, the territory is making the action plan available for public comment for a period of 14 calendar days in order to gain the public’s input. The Mapp administration will host a series of public forums in the upcoming weeks to share a summary of the plan and to solicit public comment, according to V.I.H.F.A. Copies of the plan will also be made available at key locations such as public libraries and on V.I.H.F.A.’s website, it said.
Email your comments and suggestions to CDBGDRcomments@vihfa.gov. The plan has not been approved by H.U.D.