FORWARD/ADELANTE Puerto Rico, a fund created by the network of Puerto Rican foundations, collected and quickly distributed funds to vetted local grassroots organizations that provided direct assistance to communities affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Now, longer term support will strengthen their response capacity, promote transparency in government, equitable distribution of disaster recovery funds, and generate data to promote access to housing, jobs, and resilient communities.
The 3.5 Million residents of Puerto Rico are still suffering the hurricanes' devastation. An economic recession has led to cuts in public services and jobs. Hundreds of thousands still do not have a safe home. Disaster recovery funds help rebuild homes, but people must have title to their land. Many lost their papers or built homes informally on family land. Without land titles the poor lose their most important asset. And nonprofits, essential providers of immediate relief, need strengthening.
Quickly following Hurricanes irma and Maria, the FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund supported local grassroots groups that provided immediate assistance, even as government response was inadequate. Most households now have water and electricity. A long recovery is ahead with government funds beginning to arrive for housing repair and rebuilding and job creation. Funds need to favor those with fewest resources. Government transparency and accountability, fuelled by data analysis, will ensure good policies.
The FORWARD Fund has identified priorities to create long term and sustainable recovery, local jobs, stem migration and increase philanthropic investments: Promote social justice and transparency in the distribution of public resources, particularly disaster recovery funds; Facilitate data analysis, and informed public dialogue and debate on the impacts of new policies, particularly for vulnerable populations; Advance the resilience and sustainability of the non-profit sector.