The governor Pedro Pierluisi announced this Wednesday the beginning of the conversion of the former Ramon B. Lopez school, in Catano, into a shelter to provide support to homeless women suffering from HIV/AIDS and their children.
The project, named Villa Remanso has an allocation of $2.5 million of the Disaster Recovery Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG-DRin English) under the initiative of the Department of Housing, called Social Interest Housing. The reconstruction and transformation of the school, which fell into disuse under the governor’s administration Alejandro Garcia Padillait will take 10 months, the chief executive reported at a press conference.
“Thanks to the Social Interest Housing program, which has a (global) investment of $37.5 million in CDBG-DR funds from the Department of Housing, we can provide financing to projects that serve diverse populations, ensuring their access to affordable housing. and affordable for, particularly, vulnerable people with economic, physical, emotional and other difficulties”highlighted Pierluisi, who was accompanied by the Secretary of Housing, William Rodriguez.
“The main focus of Villa Remanso is to provide affordable housing opportunities to this population by taking advantage of this disused facility, which previously served as a school, so that the participants can rehabilitate themselves in a safe environment, improving their living conditions and providing adapted services,” added the president.
The project will be developed by the organization Hogar de Ayuda El Refugio, Inc., which submitted a proposal to Housing. The executive director of the organization, Maria Ramos Andino, explained that the beneficiaries of the shelter have not yet been chosen, but they will be recipients of the Section 8 housing program and who have some need, such as a home or addiction problems. The services will be free, it was reported at the press conference.
“We have been in the Amelia neighborhood for 37 years, Guaynabo. This is our second project. The project in the Amelia neighborhood of Guaynabo was started to provide services to homeless women. We began working, in 1980, with HIV/AIDS patients. That was our population. “Home, right now, has become too small for us”highlighted Ramos Andino, who explained that the school was transferred to them by contract, which will be renewed periodically.
The project will have a detoxification area, which includes 14 beds, plus four shared rooms – which will add eight additional beds – and six independent housing units with one room each. Residents will have access to essential services 24/7, which will include nutrition, counseling, physical support, social and psychological services.
The mayor of Catano, Julio Alicea Vasallooffered a very moving message, in which he revealed that his older brother, Victor Alicea Vasallo, was a heroin user. After 10 years, and after surrendering to Christianity, he tested positive for HIV and died, as did his wife.
Alicea Vasallo added that her sister also died from HIV, after being infected by her husband, and left her in charge of her son, who today is a “great professional.”
“I will never forget when my sister started to decline and decline.”he said, and indicated that the Municipality of Catano will allocate $10,000 annually to help the shelter and ensure that they do not lack “anything.”