>> Puerto Ricans living in this 40-acre illegal shanty town didn't know they had so much to lose. Their homes were nothing more than makeshift structures on cinder blocks. Their facades scrawled with unofficial addresses. Then, Hurricane Maria hit, leaving ruin in its wake. About half of Puerto Rico's residents are living in so-called informal homes, most built without permits.
And now the bankrupt island is facing the daunting task of rebuilding. And this time, to code. Reuters correspond, Nick Brown.>> The looming question that governments are only now starting to think about is how do we relocate these people permanently in adequate housing that will withstand this kinds of storms in the future?
And how do we do it in a way that's affordable? Because most of these people, by definition, in informal communities are very poor. And how do we do it quickly before they either leave the island or rebuild illegally again?>> That's something the island has plenty of experience with.
This illegal squatter community, Villa Hugo, was built and named after the devastating 1989 hurricane that left thousands homeless. They built what they could on publicly owned wetlands and stayed put for almost three decades. The government doesn't want that happening again.>> FEMA and other federal and local agencies have a lot of plans and options to try to get people relocated.
The thing is they're mostly short-term temporary solutions. One of them is to lease vacant properties on the island and there are a lot. Something like 20% of houses in Puerto Rico are vacant.>> But that process is slow-going.>>
> The Puerto Rican Governor's Office is asking for $94 billion dollars in federal aid.
But the amount Congress is considering giving is far lower. Without enough money for major renovations, most homeowners Reuters spoke to, said they plan to combine FEMA'S help with what little money they could raise, to rebuild in the same spot, squatter communities included.