El Otro Puerto Rico Emerges to Tackle the Housing Crisis and Displacement on the Island

Puerto Rico - Housing - crisis

Image courtesy of Nelson Gabriel Berríos.

By Mivette Vega

March 23, 2023

As has happened in Florida, rents have skyrocketed in Puerto Rico. In 2017 the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $504, but in 2022 that price has risen to $2,990.

A group of community leaders, business owners, and residents launched El Otro Puerto Rico (EOPR), an organization that seeks to tackle the housing crisis and displacement that is affecting several communities on the island.

The group chose Río Piedras to start implementing the first three initiatives, which the organization hopes to expand to other areas of need on the Island.

RELATED: The Vacation Rental Market Is Strong in Puerto Rico and Florida, but Has Negative Consequences for Local Residents

The initiatives are a long-term lease program, a housing cooperative incubator, and a long-term financing program.

The organization managed to put together a Social Investment Fund, with $1 million in donations from private individuals and entities. One of the first plans on the agenda is to acquire disused multi-family properties and rehabilitate them to offer them at fair rental fees.

As has happened in Florida, rents have skyrocketed in Puerto Rico. In 2017 the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $504. That price has risen to $2,990 in 2022, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Law 22 of 2012, which was recently incorporated into the Tax Incentives Code known as Law 60, has also affected housing, because it has turned the island into a tax haven, encouraging millionaires to buy properties on the island and convert them into short-term rentals. 

Currently, some 25,000 properties are destined for short-term rentals, according to the Center for a New Economy in Puerto Rico. For this reason, EOPR is demanding the repeal of Law 60.

RELATED: Vacation Rentals Are Booming in Puerto Rico. Here Are the Pros and Cons of This Growing Industry.

EOPR also points out that 25% of the homes are unoccupied and disabled, making it difficult for low-income residents to access housing.

“Stop the displacement, stop the investors of Law 22 (Law 60), stop the hoarders who want to take us out of our communities; it is possible. For this reason, we want to make the call to unite wills and unite our communities, regardless of who we are, from which social sector, from which party, from which denomination, it does not matter. This is a problem that affects all of us, and we have to face it united as a country,” said Alonso Ortiz Menchaca, executive director of EOPR, during a press conference.



  • Mivette Vega

    Mivette Vega is a seasoned journalist and multimedia reporter whose stories center the Latino community. She is passionate about justice, equality, environmental matters, and animals. She is a Salvadorrican—Salvadorian that grew up in Puerto Rico—that has lived in San Juan, Venice, Italy, and Miami.



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