From Recovery to Resilience:

Strengthening communities in Puerto Rico through health care and housing

Resolve in the Face of Devastation

In the fall of 2017, everything changed in Puerto Rico. Within the span of a month, two devastating hurricanes knocked the wind out of the vibrant island community, leaving unparalleled destruction in their path.

The damage is widespread, and it will take many more years to rebuild. AbbVie is accelerating recovery efforts and creating long-term impact through a combined $100 million donation to Direct Relief and Habitat for Humanity International.

Read: AbbVie Donates $100 Million to Strengthen Access to Healthcare, Housing for Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico

After receiving $50 million each to jumpstart multi-year recovery and resilience plans, the organizations are focused on two building blocks of society – health care and housing:

  • Direct Relief is rebuilding and strengthening Puerto Rico’s primary health care system, prioritizing community health centers, introducing the first island-wide telemedicine program and increasing access to renewable power sources like water and solar.
  • Habitat for Humanity is developing long-term housing solutions and partnering with hurricane-affected families to help repair and rebuild their homes. Habitat is helping families gain clear titles to their land and offering improved construction methods and training for the rebuilding process.

Learn more: AbbVie Donates $350 Million to Nonprofits Creating Long-Term Impact in Communities in Need

AbbVie has a longstanding commitment to the people of Puerto Rico – operating on the island for nearly 50 years and serving as one of Puerto Rico’s largest private employers with more than 1,200 employees.

Below: Puerto Rico employees volunteer at local schools in Barceloneta and San Juan during AbbVie’s annual Week of Possibilities, where employees around the globe take time away from their jobs to enrich the communities where they live and work.

Following the unprecedented disasters of 2017, AbbVie Foundation and AbbVie employees provided over $4 million to support disaster relief efforts, including those that struck Puerto Rico.

Our Partner: Direct Relief

After receiving an infusion of $50 million from AbbVie in spring 2018, leaders at Direct Relief are focused on executing the first stage of a three-year partnership to rebuild and strengthen primary health care on the island.

In Hurricane Maria's immediate aftermath, Direct Relief was able to quickly respond to urgent requests for medical supplies from across the island because of its longstanding support of Puerto Rico's health centers. In the months since, Direct Relief has been the largest non-governmental donor of charitable medical resources to Puerto Rico, providing more than $70 million in requested medication and medical supplies to 77 local community health centers and clinics, hospitals and other health providers.

Read: Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Community Health Center at a Time

The health centers receiving support from Direct Relief are all in medically uninsured and underserved areas. Close to 90 percent of their collective patients live below the poverty line.

Watch the video below for the story of a young woman in the town of Arroyo, who works at one of the clinics and whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Maria.

Direct Relief followed Yesenia Ortiz and her family after their home in Arroyo was badly damaged when Hurricane Maria swept through the mountainous community. See how they were impacted and why Yesenia’s job at a local health clinic is critical to the family and her community.

Our Partner: Habitat for Humanity

Weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Habitat distributed 2,000 shelter repair kits and solar kits in 11 locations across the island as a first step in response. In partnership with Save the Children, Habitat distributed kits to families in Caguas, Santa Isabel, Coamo, Arroyo, Guayama, Salinas, Patillas, Orocovis, Loiza, Humacao and Vieques to make immediate repairs to their damaged homes. Habitat also distributed 2,000 solar kits for families that lacked access to electricity. Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico has been building and repairing homes in the U.S. territory since 1997.

Through AbbVie's donation, over the next five years Habitat for Humanity will partner directly with hurricane-affected families to address their shelter needs, as well as work with the Puerto Rican government and local municipalities toward policies and systems that will improve shelter, land and resilience issues across the island.

Habitat expects to directly assist 13,000 people through repairs, new construction, workforce training and assistance with clear property titles. Through its work to effect policy and systems reforms, Habitat also expects to make significant progress in aiding many of the estimated 1.3 million Puerto Ricans who live in housing that was built without clear title or proper permits. Those residents face significant barriers to construction and repairs as well as assistance from other sources of aid. Learn more about Habitat's hurricane recovery efforts and details about their work in Puerto Rico over the next five years.  

To learn more about applying for assistance, please visit habitat.org/puertorico or call 1-855-242-0005.

Habitat Puerto Rico executive director Amanda Silva shares the heartbreak of what has happened on the island she calls home — and the hope that Habitat’s shelter repair kits and long-term recovery work will bring to families there.