About 25 demonstrators gathered in front of Philadelphia’s Housing and Urban Development offices Wednesday, mirroring protests in Washington, D.C., and New York City, to demand the remaining $10.3 billion in disaster relief aid Congress approved for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017.
On Tuesday, President Trump lifted a hold he had placed on $8.2 billion in aid, after a devastating 6.4-magnitude earthquake on the island, and nearly 16 months after an initial $1.5 billion was distributed.
“We’re demanding equal treatment from this administration as citizens of the United States of America,” said Vanessa Maria Graber, a protester and member of Philly Boricuas.
Congress had designated funds to upgrade its infrastructure, including the electrical grids, and rebuilding homes, businesses and bridges. HUD has delayed the release of this aid, citing corruption and scandals in Puerto Rico as reason for the withholding.
On Wednesday, Puerto Ricans and allies in cities across the United States organized demonstrations outside of HUD offices.
Since the earthquake hit Puerto Rico on Jan. 7, the amount of damage has been estimated at $460 million, and the number of people displaced has risen from nearly 2,000 to 5,000.