Home / Daily Dose / HUD Removes Barriers to Puerto Rico’s Disaster Relief Funds in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, Market Studies, News April 26, 2021 4,351 Views Previous: AHP Servicing Appoints New President Next: Forbearance Update: How Are Rates Changing? HUD Removes Barriers to Puerto Rico’s Disaster Relief Funds Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. 2021-04-26 Christina Hughes Babb Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Subscribe Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery efforts—specifically those following Hurricane Maria in 2017—have been slow compared to that of other parts of the United States. The New York Times reported back in February that that is due in part to restrictions on Puerto Rico’s aid funds put in place by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the previous administration.The Biden administration at the time reportedly began working to remove some of those spending restrictions put in place after Maria, and progress has been made in the past several days.Last week, HUD announced it would remove those “onerous restrictions” unique to Puerto Rico, which prevented the island’s access to recovery funds allocated in 2017, following Maria. The department also said last week that it owes a total of $8.2 billion in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds to Puerto Rico.Last week’s actions are the latest in an ongoing whole-of-government effort to support the island’s recovery and renewal, according to the department.“Since its first days, the Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized action to enable stronger recovery for Puerto Rico,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “…HUD will unlock access to funds Puerto Rico needs to recover from past disasters and build resilience to future storms while ensuring transparency and accountability. We are committed to an ongoing partnership with Puerto Rico to empower the island’s communities and help them build back better.”Among the restrictions removed by HUD are the incremental grant obligations and review by the Federal Financial Monitor. HUD also removed the requirement for Puerto Rico to request and submit any certification, observations, and recommendations by the Financial Oversight and Management Board, beyond what is already required by law.The announcements come on the heels of an investigation looking into why officials withheld about $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico following the devastating aftermath the 2017 hurricane, reportedly one of the deadliest U.S. natural disasters in over 100 years.A HUD Office of Inspector General report released Thursday found “unprecedented procedural hurdles that produced delays in the disbursement of the congressionally approved funds.”Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds enable grantees to address significant unmet needs for long-term recovery, including disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure, housing, and economic revitalization.Program funds can be used in areas impacted by recent disasters to carry out strategic and high-impact activities to mitigate disaster risk and reduce future losses.Both NBC and The New York Times have reported that neither former HUD Secretary Benjamin Carson nor former President Trump responded to requests for comment on the situation. Nor did they respond to queries from DS News in February. But a HUD representative named Michael Burns told the Times in February that the effort by Biden to resume aid to Puerto Rico represents an attempt to “reset” its relationship with the island. He says this “will help the island build resilience to future storms and floods.”Want to learn more about navigating disaster in your own sphere? Five Star’s Disaster Preparedness 2021 Virtual Experience will be held Wednesday, July 14. Not another webinar or Zoom call, Disaster Preparedness 2021 is a business immersion experience in a full-scale virtual conference environment, complete with an expo hall, breakout sessions, and interactive networking opportunities. This year’s agenda features six educational panels covering topics regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, technology, regulatory insights, extreme weather, risk mitigation, and more. Click here for more information on Five Star’s Disaster Preparedness 2021 Virtual Experience. 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Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) research has shown awareness of auto-enrolment among the UK population is increasing, as the programme’s rollout continues.Statistics from the government said 78% of those surveyed believed employers being compelled by law to provide pensions was a positive step.The research also found around 50% of those surveyed said saving into a workplace pension was a “normal thing to do”, in a boost to the government’s policy.Some 30% of those of working age have taken action as a result of the government’s advertising campaign for auto-enrolment, with around 25% having discussed second-pillar savings in a social environment. The news comes as the government announced 4m people had now been auto-enrolled into a workplace pension scheme since the programme began in October 2012.Pensions minister Steve Webb said: “Increasingly, people are waking up to the fact it pays to think about the future and consider the kind of retirement we want.“But we still have a mountain to climb. Recent DWP research found that close to half of working-age people are failing to save enough to maintain their standard of living into old age, so there is more to do.”In other news, the DWP’s charge cap, aimed at protecting members being auto-enrolled into default investment strategies, has come under fire from one of the UK’s largest insurance mutuals.Royal London Group (RLG) has told its shareholders the government grossly underestimated the impact estimates on pension companies.The cap, which comes into force in April 2015, stops member-borne charges in DC auto-enrolment default investment funds being above 75 basis points.The government estimates that, at the time of legislating, said industry revenue would be reduced by £200m (€250m) over a 10-year period.Chief executive of RLG, Phil Loney, said the policy would have the opposite consequence to its intention.“This government intervention will only distort a market that was already moving in favour of lower charges,” he said.He said the impact at his own firm, plus other impact provisions from other pension providers, showed the DWP’s estimates to be incorrect.Royal London said the £200m estimate could realistically increase to as high as £1bn.“This seems to me to be an unacceptable margin for error in the government’s understanding of the impact of its actions and the size of the impact,” Loney said.Despite the estimated £200m hit on the entire industry, insurers Standard Life and Scottish Widows have each already stated individual provisions of £160m and £100m, respectively.