Webinars & Livestreams

Vacancy and Abandonment: A snapshot of a post-earthquake Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s urban and rural landscapes are plagued by a large catalog of abandoned, vacant, and substandard housing. The most recent U.S. Census numbers place Puerto Rico’s vacancy rate at 22% (or 344,694 homes) with even higher rates at many southern coast municipalities. Despite new legislation allowing for the low- or no-cost transfer of these properties to community groups and nonprofits, little has been done by the government to incentivize it.

More than half of Puerto Rico’s municipalities operate with deficits, and local governments suffer from budget, administrative and capacity constraints. In addition, the recent wave of earthquakes on the island’s southern coast has further battered cities that were already ill-equipped to handle unforeseen circumstances.

This webinar, led by Luis Gallardo of the Center for Habitat Reconstruction, seeks to educate interested stakeholders on abandonment and vacancy, particularly within the context of a motley of natural disasters. The extent of vacancy and abandonment on the island, causes and effects, the relationship between housing and natural disasters, public policy, and recommendations for moving forward will be explored.

Speaker Biography

Luis Gallardo, Co-Director of the Center for Habitat Reconstruction, has worked for the past 15 years on public policy and state and municipal laws while focusing on housing, nuisance properties, and advocacy. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in City Management, and a Juris Doctor. He was also the former Urban Development Director for the Municipality of Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, and a former Community Development Director for Opelika, Alabama, where he oversaw the implementation of downtown rehabilitation strategies under numerous federal grants. In 2018 Gallardo was awarded the Crystal Eagle Award for his advocacy work against eminent domain abuse and published in the University of Puerto Rico’s law journal an article titled Public Nuisance in Puerto Rico.

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Luis Gallardo

Luis Gallardo

Co-Director of Center for Habitat Reconstruction


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