Senators Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Bernie Sanders, and Dick Durbin last week sent a letter to John Kelly, acting inspector general (IG) of the Department of Homeland Security, asking him to expand the ongoing investigation into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) contracting in Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
The senators asked the acting IG to probe new reports of waste and abuse associated with the contractors hired to execute and manage the $1.2 billion Tu Hogar Renace (Your Home Reborn) program, created in October 2017 to provide temporary and immediate repairs for hurricane-damaged homes that would “return the home to safe, habitable and functional conditions, “ according to a press release issued by Warren’s office on 6th December:
In their letter to the DHS IG, the senators expressed concern about a recent New York Times report that “more than 60 percent of what FEMA is spending in the program” to repair up to 120,000 homes is not paying for these repairs but is instead “going toward overhead, profit and steep markups.” The report also found that that while homeowners were approved for “up to $20,000 each in aid,” a review of hundreds of invoices and contracts indicates that-in nearly every case-they received less than half of that.
Regular readers are well aware of what a debacle the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria has been (see, for example. my previous post, Puerto Rico: 1427 Hurricane Maria Deaths, which includes several links to Lambert’s thorough and wide-ranging coverage of this catastrophe). The island was a neoliberal casualty long before the storm hit (and that assault predated the Trump administration).
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Senators Warren and Sanders have previously introduced legislation to restructure Puerto Rico’s debt (as I discussed…