Revitalizing Communities: CRH’s Impact in Puerto Rico

Centro para la Reconstrucción del Hábitat, Inc San Juan, Puerto Rico

Equitable Neighborhood Development, Financial Capability

In the wake of Puerto Rico’s economic challenges and natural disasters, NALCAB provided a $650,000 loan to Centro para la Reconstrucción del Hábitat, Inc. (CRH) with support from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Program Related Investments, to empower CRH to tackle Puerto Rico’s daunting housing crisis.

Puerto Rico has the highest vacancy and property abandonment rates in the US, worsened by a decade-long recession, fiscal collapse, two devastating hurricanes, and subsequent earthquakes. It is estimated that up to a third of all buildings in Puerto Rico are empty, abandoned, or in ruin. Many properties have become public nuisances, representing environmental and health risks that disproportionately affect low-income communities. Simultaneously, Puerto Rico is suffering an affordable housing crisis; over 300,000 households in Puerto Rico spend more than 30% of their income on housing, exceeding the HUD-recommended maximum.

CRH’s efforts will catalyze economic development in areas deteriorated by derelict properties. The project aims to identify existing nuisance properties through surveying strategies, data gathering, database development, and community and municipal meetings. This process will streamline municipal code enforcement or abatement proceedings, eliminating the need for re-inventory or reinspection.

NALCAB’s bridge loan allowed CRH to cover the project’s initial expenses without straining its cash flow or overall liquidity, as the Puerto Rico Department of Housing (PRDOH) reimburses invoiced deliverables. This crucial funding allowed CRH to hire key and supporting staff, including field technicians, a Compliance Manager, a Finance Director, and two accountants. Additionally, it covered the costs of necessary equipment and technology, as well as the development of a Training Manual and a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual, ensuring the project could start smoothly and effectively.