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Department Of Housing Invests $400 Million To Modernize
Goal is to improve residents
quality of life by promoting community involvement and self sufficiency
by José L. Carmona
April 20, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.
Santurces Manuel A. Perez public housing is looking more
like a walk-up apartment complex than a caserio (project).
Thats because the public residential complex was completely
remodeled recently as part of the Department of Housings
(DOH) current $400 million modernization program that will include
over 6,700 public housing units across the island.
"Some projects dont look anything like public housing,"
said Carlos Gonzalez, DOH secretary. "Manuel A. Perez looks
much more like a upper-middle class apartment complex. Its
The Public Housing Administration (PHA), one of four agencies
under the DOH umbrella, is in charge of the modernization program,
among other things.
The current modernization effort is part of an ambitious $800
million master program in place by PHA since 1993 that will eventually
involve 20,000 of the 56,000 housing units in approximately 333
public housing projects in Puerto Rico.
"Each unit is completely emptied; floors, cabinets, bathrooms,
doors, windows, and appliances are replaced with new ones,"
Gonzalez said. "Recreational and green areas are added, even
the buildings facade is changed."
The modernization also includes new lighting, electrical &
phone wiring, drainage, and sewer systems. Special attention is
given to the physically challenged by upgrading ramps, sidewalks,
parking, and access to common areas.
"Another thing we are doing as part of the modernization
program is the establishment of electronic libraries," the
DOH secretary commented enthusiastically. "Around 20 public
housing projects already have their own electronic library."
Each electronic library is divided in two sections. One section
houses a training area with several computers and a projector,
while the second area includes various individual computer workstations.
Some even have satellite hook ups.
A teacher will be available at specific times to provide computer
training to groups of children as well as adults. Each library
will stock educational materials and programs in both English
and Spanish, designed to improve skills on subjects such as Math,
English, Science, Spanish, and others. Seven additional electronic
libraries are expected to open in the next few weeks.
Gonzalez sees his agencys role shifting, from one as
a provider to one of a facilitator.
"We are investing large sums of money to improve the quality
of life and standard of living of those who live in our public
housing projects," Gonzalez said. "The idea is not only
to provide safe and accessible housing to residents, but also
to promote in them community involvement and self-sufficiency.
To make residents feel that they are part of society."
With 56,000 public housing units Puerto Rico has the second
highest number of DOH units
in the nation. New York tops the list with 130,000 units, while
Chicago is third with 32,000.
The islands combined DOH budget is more than $550 million.
This Caribbean Business article appears
courtesy of Casiano
For further information please contact www.casiano.com