Puerto Rico sus­pends $133M post-hur­ri­cane hous­ing con­tract

Imperial Valley Press - - NEWS | CLASSIFIED - BY DAN­ICA COTO

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s Hous­ing Depart­ment said Wed­nes­day it will sus­pend a $133 mil­lion deal with a U.S. com­pany hired to re­pair homes dam­aged by Hur­ri­cane Maria be­cause a re­view board found the con­tract was im­prop­erly awarded.

The depart­ment’s con­trac­tor re­view board pub­lished a rul­ing on Tues­day that New York­based Ad­justers In­ter­na­tional re­ceived the con­tract, which was sub­si­dized by the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, though it did not meet sev­eral re­quire­ments.

Eric Perez-Ochoa, an at­tor­ney for Ad­justers In­ter­na­tional, said in a state­ment that the com­pany com­plied with all re­quire­ments and is study­ing the board’s de­ci­sion, adding that it was “deeply dis­ap­pointed.” He said thou­sands of Puerto Ri­cans were en­rolled in the home re­pairs pro­gram and that crews were con­duct­ing nearly 1,500 home in­spec­tions a day, with 700 Puerto Ri­cans help­ing out. He said the com­pany of­fered a sav­ings of more than $20 mil­lion com­pared with the other pro­posal.

“This de­ci­sion puts that progress at risk and may cost Puerto Rico more money,” he said.

A com­pany vice pres­i­dent, Daniel Craig, had been nom­i­nated by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to the No. 2 po­si­tion at FEMA but later with­drew from con­sid­er­a­tion. Craig, an ex-FEMA of­fi­cial un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, had faced a 2011 fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion that con­cluded he fal­si­fied gov­ern­ment travel and time­keep­ing records — find­ings he has re­jected as be­ing the re­sult of a poor in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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