On Thursday, leading representatives from mortgage banks, servicers, suppliers, non-depository institutions, and government agencies engaged in a series of collaborative discussions focused on sustainable solutions for this island in recovery during The Five Star PR18 Conference (PR18) in San Juan.
It’s been more than a year since Hurricane Maria left a trail of devastation to life and property in the island nation of Puerto Rico. But even now, its shadow looms with Puerto Rico’s government estimating the amount required to rebuild and restore the region at around $139 billion. Even more sobering are the death tolls for the storm that were raised from 62 to 2,975 according to a report commissioned by Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rossello and released in August 2018.
“The People of Puerto Rico are not nameless, faceless statistics. They are our countrymen, with the same dreams, values, and aspirations. Our solemn duty as an industry and as a society is to help restore and revitalize an island that so many call home,” said Ed Delgado, President, and CEO of the Five Star Institute during his address at the conference.
Some of the key topics discussed during this two-day summit included an overall “State of the Island,” a look at the policies and programs shaping the island’s recovery, an examination of Puerto Rico’s ongoing foreclosure crisis, borrower outreach options, a legal services update, and a breakdown of the unique property preservation challenges presented by Hurricane Maria’s aftermath.
“Mainland firms are not familiar with Puerto Rico, and parties based in Puerto Rico need to work with mainland partners they can trust,” Steven Horne, Founding Member of HMB Law Group told DS News in its November feature story titled “Rebuilding Paradise”. “The beauty of the Five Star PR18 Conference is that it is the perfect time in the recovery process to build those relationships.”
Supported by Auction.com  and Co-supported by The Home Depot Renovation Services  and RES.NET , PR18 featured representatives from industry-leading organizations. They included Banco Popular de Puerto Rico;  Clear Capital;  DIMONT;  Fannie Mae;  Five Brothers Asset Management Solutions ; Freddie Mac ; Gilbert Garcia Group;  Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery ; Hladik, Onorato & Federman;  HMB Law Group ; HOPE NOW ; JGM Property Group;  National General Lender Services ; NAHREP , USRES;  Wells Fargo Home Mortgage;  and Xome. 
At the crux of the conference were two key focus areas—proactive response and collaboration.
“When crises happen, we must all react quickly and collaboratively to effect change,” said Ali Haralson, Chief Business Development Officer, Auction.com. “This proactive response is in line with the message of PR18: hope and restoration. By convening in Puerto Rico for this important summit, our industry leaders will be bringing visibility to the needs of the island and supporting relief and recovery efforts collectively.”
The road to recovery for this paradise is a long one indeed but it is one that the industry is taking action to walk on to restore the island.
Click here to read our November issue of DS News to learn more about how industry leaders are working to facilitate the process of rebuilding Puerto Rico.