Hispanic Federation Praises Help for Puerto Rico in American Rescue Plan


Laura Esquivel

—The American Rescue Plan (ARP) will provide a colossal “shot in the arm” for our nation’s small businesses and nonprofits; ensure millions of Americans can keep their jobs, incomes and homes; and enable parents to support and feed their families as our country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The ARP includes urgently needed funding for our health care infrastructure and personnel which facilitates the safe delivery of millions of doses of vaccine each day, paving the way for millions of Americans to go back to work and school safely.

“This bill will also provide desperately needed help for Puerto Rico” said Frankie Miranda, President and CEO of Hispanic Federation. “In the past four years the island has faced hurricanes, a political crisis, severe droughts, water rationing and devastating earthquakes. But those crises did not lead to the kind of widespread unemployment, food insecurity, and the physical and mental healthcare crisis that has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Funding for programs in the American Rescue Plan such as the temporary increase in the Child Tax Credit and rental assistance will help parents care for their families and keep a roof over their heads. Homeowners behind with their mortgages and at risk of losing their homes will also receive much needed help to address a challenge that was not of their making and beyond their control.

“Nearly one billion dollars in nutrition assistance for low-income people in Puerto Rico is a lifeline to prevent malnutrition on an island with over 3 million residents and the highest poverty rate in the nation—topping 44% before the pandemic began (more than double the poverty rate in Mississippi).

“We welcome the help for Puerto Rico in the American Rescue Plan and thank President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and many of our other congressional champions for their hard work to pass this landmark legislation for the country and for Puerto Rico. We will continue to fight together for long term solutions for Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable and for a just recovery,” concluded Miranda.

Press Call to Discuss the Positive Impact That the Recent Passage of The American Rescue Plan Will Have for Puerto Rico

Click here to listen to a press call held (3/17/21) with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-7), and Hispanic Federation President and CEO Frankie Miranda discussing the provisions of the American Rescue Plan that apply to Puerto Rico.

Read Frankie Miranda’s remarks here.

Puerto Rico funding provisions in the American Rescue Plan

estimated between $10-$12 Billion (updated 3.19.21)

Below is a partial list of some of provisions in the $1.9 trillion American Recovery Act that will help Puerto Rico weather this latest crisis while the country is put back on the long road to recovery.

State and Local Aid: $4.195 billion

  • ARP includes significant support for state and local governments. Many states have sustained massive revenue shortfalls and face a host of increased spending needs
    • PR State Gov’t: $2.463 billion
    • PR’s metro cities: $832 million
    • PR smaller communities: $118 million
    • PR Counties: $619 million
    • Capital Project Broadband Assistance: $162 million

K-12 Public Schools $3.104 billion

  • ARP provides over $125 billion for public K-12 schools to safely reopen schools for in-person learning, address learning loss, and support students as they work to recover from the long-term impacts of the pandemic
    • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund: nearly $3B
    • Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools Program: $104 million

Disaster Relief Fund $1.271 billion

  • The bill will provide $50 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which assists states, Tribal Nations, and territories, as well as individuals and qualifying private nonprofits to pay for personal protective equipment; vaccine distribution; sanitization of schools, public transit, and courthouses; health care overtime costs; and other needs. This money can also be allocated to extending the funeral assistance program secured in the last COVID relief package that will reimburse those who have lost a loved one to COVID for many common funeral expenses.

Nutrition Assistance: $1 billion for Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands

  • In addition to increased funding for the block grant Nutrition Assistance Program, Puerto Rico will also benefit from improvements to P-EBT (P-EBT extended to cover any school year in which there is a public health emergency and to cover summer months. (funding available until Sept 2027)

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund: $747 million

  • ARP provides $39.6 billion to colleges and universities and their students. At least half of such funding must be spent on emergency financial aid grants to students to help them with college costs and basic needs like food, housing, and health care, with the other half available to higher education institutions to defray lost revenue and increased costs from declining enrollment, the transition to online learning, closure of services and facilities, and COVID-19 testing, vaccination, PPE, and classroom retrofits.

Child Tax Credit no current PR estimate

  • Puerto Rico is currently able to benefit from the federal Child Tax Credit, but families are only eligible for the credit when they have a third child. This means the first two children born to families in Puerto Rico do not qualify for the CTC, even though families on the mainland are not subject to the same restriction. This inequity in the federal program denies the credit to households with less than three children, who also need and deserve access to this assistance, particularly as nearly 60% of children in PR live below the federal poverty line and 70% of single mothers live below the poverty line.
  • ARP corrects this long-standing inequity by making the federal CTC fully available to Puerto Rican families for 2021 – regardless of the number of children they have – ensuring they can access the same tax relief as their counterparts across the U.S.
  • This bill also means PR will benefit from the temporary expansion of the CTC for 2021, which makes the credit fully refundable and increases the amount to $3,000 per child (or $3,600 for children under age 6). (After this program Puerto Rico’s CTC will revert to its previous qualifying criteria of only families with three or more children.)
  • A family with two children could receive up to $7,200; a family with three children could receive up to $10,800 in a refundable tax credit payable in monthly installments.

Earned Income Tax Credit: $600 million

  • Currently, the federal EITC is not available to Puerto Rico. The PR government created its own local EITC in 2019 to provide a tax credit to its lowest-income residents, but the amount is much smaller than what households on the mainland receive.
  • The American Rescue Plan Act directs the federal government to strengthen Puerto Rico’s local EITC for FY 21 by providing three dollars for every dollar provided by the Puerto Rican government – potentially quadrupling the size of the program. The local EITC costs Puerto Rico around $200 million each year, so this bill would deliver an additional $600 million annually to extend the size of the Commonwealth’s credit under the three-to-one federal match. Assuming it does not displace local dollars, this would provide a significant boost to Puerto Rico’s EITC, putting money directly into the pockets of struggling households in PR, which is crucial for the nearly 43 percent of its population that is living in poverty.

Stimulus Payments no current PR estimate

  • $1,400 for each eligible adult individual ($2,800 in the case of most married couples).
  • An additional $1,400 for each dependent as defined for tax purposes.
  • A family of four in Puerto Rico will receive $5600 in a lump sum.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Plus-up

  • This bill provides an additional $300 per week for all workers receiving unemployment benefits, through September 6, 2021. Under this legislation, Puerto Rico’s average weekly unemployment insurance benefit will continue to be increased.
    • Avg. PR Weekly UI Benefit: $199.34
    • Avg. PR Weekly UI Benefit, with FPUC $300 Plus-up: $499.34
    • Estimated Per-Week Impact of UI in the ARP (w/ FPUC Plus-up): $142,150,000
Child Care: $344 million
  • The CDBG stabilization grants will provide significant support to the child care sector to ensure child care providers can continue to operate throughout the pandemic and will allow states to provide child care assistance to working families who are in great need of child care services. In addition, Head Start will receive emergency relief, which will be used to continue providing services to children and families.
    • Child Care Funding: $308 million (CCDBG + Child Care Stabilization Grants)
    • Head Start Funding: $36 million

Emergency Rental, Mortgage, and Utilities Assistance: $319 million

  • Following the first-of-its kind program establish in December, the American Rescue Plan provides targeted funding for rental, mortgage, and utilities assistance to help millions of families stay in their homes and keep the light on and the water running. It protects Americans who cannot pay their rents or mortgages from a crushing debt burden when the crisis is over.
    • Emergency Rental and Utilities Assistance: $240 million
    • Homeowner Assistance: $79 million

Urban Transit Funding: $118,041,898

  • Aguadilla-Isabela-San Sebastián, PR: $424,535
  • Arecibo, PR: $464,030 Fajardo, PR: $19,710,203
  • Florida-Imbéry-Barceloneta, PR: $181,594
  • Guayama, PR: $93,949
  • Juana Díaz, PR: $43,615
  • Mayaguez, PR: $962,804
  • Ponce, PR: $656,887
  • San Germán-Cabo Rojo-Sabana Grande, PR: $113,063
  • San Juan, PR: $95,156,466
  • Yauco, PR: $234,752

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program LIHEAP $117 million

  • LIHEAP provides federally funded assistance to help families with in managing costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and energy-related minor home repairs. Available through Sept. 2022

Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund $100 million+

  • $100 million for “critical capital projects directly enabling work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease.” To implement this Fund, Treasury is required to establish a process of applying for grants within 60 days of enactment. The law also creates an additional $2 billion Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund that will allocate $750 million to eligible revenue sharing counties (defined to include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands) and $250 million to eligible Tribes for any government purpose other than lobbying.

Airport Improvement Program: $47,825,038

  • Airports have been especially hard hit by the pandemic, and without billions in additional aid will be forced to cut the jobs of thousands of employees, reduce or discontinue operations, and be unable to make payments on capital projects. The workforce retention requirements associated with federal relief protect workers at commercial airports across the United States. Airport relief is also designed to help airport concessionaires, many of which are disadvantage business owners.
    • San Juan – Luis Munoz Marin International: $35,716,003; Aguadilla – Rafael Hernandez: $5,510,128; Ponce – Mercedita: $1,190,536; Isla De Vieques – Antonio Rivera Rodriguez: $1,214,087; Ceiba: Jose Aponte Del La Torre: $1,139,751; Isla De Culebra – Benjamin Rivera Noriega: $1,127,341; San Juan – Fernando Luis Ribas Dominici: $1,094,192; Mayaguez – Eugenio Maria De Hostos: $59,000; Arecido – Antonio/Nery/Juarbe Pol: $32,000; Humacao – Dr. Hermengildo Ortiz Quinones: $22,000

Broadband (e-rate): $65.802 million

  • At least 12 million K-12 public school students live in households without either an internet connection or a device adequate for distance learning at home. A disproportionate amount of the children that lack Internet connectivity come from communities of color, low-income households, Tribal lands, and rural areas. This bill provides funding to the Federal Communications Commission to help schools and libraries ensure that our nation’s schoolchildren can fully participate in remote learning, even as schools look to reopen safely.

Rural and Paratransit Funding: $1,963,514

  • Rural Transit $1,059,448
  • Paratransit Funding: $904,066
    • Urbanized Areas 200k or more in Population:
      • Aguadilla – Isabela – San Sebastian, PR: $68,773; San Juan, PR: $444,021
    • Urbanized Areas 50k-199,999k in Population:
      • Puerto Rico: $350,775
    • Non-urbanized Areas Less than 50k in Population:
      • Puerto Rico: $40,497

Home delivered and congregate food: available but no estimate for Puerto Rico

Download the Puerto Rico Funding Provisions in the American Rescue Plan here.