A growing affordable housing crisis and a slow post-hurricane reconstruction process have created a precarious situation for residents in Puerto Rico nearly five years after Hurricane Maria damaged 60 percent of occupied housing units on the island.
Now that local officials have access to $18.3 billion in federal housing recovery funds, the Puerto Rico-based nonpartisan think tank Center for a New Economy published an analysis Thursday suggesting that the best way to ensure that such funds are effectively invested toward addressing Puerto Rico's housing needs is by looking granularly and focusing on neighborhoods.
"That's how we can better serve the needs of a specific place, of a particular community," Deepak Lamba-Nieves, research director at the Center for a New Economy and co-author of the analysis, told NBC News in Spanish.
"That’s the difference between a reconstruction project that just seeks to build things versus a reconstruction project that seeks to rebuild and revitalize the social fabric of a neighborhood," he said.
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