Puerto Rico (The United States of America)

FEMA Approves More than Half a Million Dollars to Entities that Protect Women

News and Press Release
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Release Date: February 3, 2021

Release Number: NR 486

GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved nearly $550,000 for nonprofits that offer services for women who are victims of domestic violence. These allocations include $400,000 for three permanent repair projects and other allocations for emergency work following Hurricane María.

According to the Puerto Rico Police Bureau Statistics Office, 6,170 incidents of domestic violence were reported on the island in 2020.

"Recovery encompasses a myriad of sectors that positively affect the safety and well-being of our communities. Certainly, these allocations help these entities to continue their work for the benefit of our country", said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands José Baquero Tirado.

Among the entities to which funds were allocated is Hogar Ruth para Mujeres Maltratadas (Ruth Center for Battered Women) which since its establishment in 1984 has served nearly 6,500 participants annually. The center provides emergency shelter, transitional housing for women and their children, guidance and counseling, legal services, and other support and educational resources. As a result of the $300,000 obligation, it was able to repair the roofs of its buildings and the cistern, as well as the fence that provides protection from intruders and unwanted persons, among other repairs.

*Hogar Ruth'*s Executive Director, Lisdel Flores Barger, emphasized that aid is extremely important in these cases because it is about the participants' safety --- the most important element promised to the victims. At the time of the disaster they were sheltering 42 people.

"If we had not been able to achieve the improvements to keep the entity functioning, perhaps dozens of women would have been killed because they would not have been able to access an emergency shelter. We are talking about lives, there is no greater impact than that. FEMA provided access to those funds we needed," said Flores Barger.

Similarly, Casa Protegida Julia de Burgos (Julia de Burgos Shelter), will receive approximately $27,000 to repair its solar water heating system, light fixtures for the parking lot, and purchase office furniture, among other improvements. "*Casa Julia*", as it is known, was founded in 1979 and provides shelter, transitional housing, children's programs, counseling services and outpatient programs, among others.

On the other hand, Women's Advocate Lersy Boria Vizcarrondo said that her Office is working tirelessly to provide the available resources. In the specific cases of *Hogar Ruth *and Casa Julia, these organizations are subsidized by the Women's Advocate Office and they support all efforts made for their benefit.

"We are grateful for this allocation of funds for these organizations that undoubtedly do a commendable job, in addition to meeting the physical and emotional needs of the victims who need it so much in their process," said Boria Vizcarrondo.

For his part, Manuel A. Laboy Rivera, Executive Director of the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, said that the projects to be developed will enable the care and services required by the victims to be offered within facilities in optimal conditions. "We appreciate the commitment of employees at these institutions, as they positively transform the lives of those seek protection, shelter and counseling. We are confident that the construction of these administrative and recreational facilities will provide safe spaces for the social and emotional development of victims who wish to rebuild their lives outside of the cycle of abuse," he added.

Likewise, Hogar Nueva Mujer - Santa María de la Merced and Hogar La Piedad which is part of the Community Development Foundation of Puerto Rico (FUNDESCO, for its Spanish acronym) are part of the organizations that were approved funds to repair their facilities. Also noteworthy is the allocation of over $90,000 to the municipality of Yabucoa for its Office of Women's Affairs whose responsibility is to ensure the development and implementation of legal, social and economic equality for women and the strengthening of the family as a core institution on the Island.

**[VIDEO] **To learn more about Casa Ruth's efforts and their recovery projects, click here.

For more information on Puerto Rico's recovery from Hurricane María, visit fema.gov/disaster/4339 and recuperacion.pr. Follow us on our social networks at Facebook.com/FEMAPuertoRico, Facebook.com/COR3pr and Twitter @COR3pr.