Rubio, Nelson Urge FEMA, Puerto Rico Governor to Extend Housing Assistance for Hurricane Maria Victims
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Governor of Puerto Rico to extend the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for Hurricane Maria victims through, at least, the remainder of the current school year.
“At a minimum, the deadline for TSA should coincide with the end of the school year for mainland states,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter today to FEMA Administrator Brock Long and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, “After Hurricane Maria devastated the island, more than 10,000 students from Puerto Rico enrolled in Florida schools. These children have already had their lives and educational experiences disrupted by a devastating storm and deserve the opportunity to complete their school year.”
In addition to Rubio and Nelson, the letter sent today urging FEMA and Governor Rosselló to continue providing assistance to these families was signed by Reps. Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Darren Soto (D-FL).
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Administrator Long and Governor Rosselló:
We write to express our concerns regarding how the Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program’s latest mid-term eligibility review is impacting Puerto Ricans in Florida. While we understand that Governor Rosselló requested an eligibility check for those participating in the program, reports have indicated individuals are being notified by their hotels regarding termination of their TSA benefits.
As you know, TSA’s overall purpose is to provide short-term lodging assistance for victims of storms like Hurricane Maria. However, until long-term solutions are fully implemented, displaced Puerto Ricans are dependent on the TSA program for shelter and stability. Any changes to eligibility should be gradually implemented and clearly explained to affected individuals. Thus, we urge you to suspend any further terminations until appropriate notice is provided to recipients allowing displaced Puerto Ricans to address their housing needs.
Additionally, at a minimum, the deadline for TSA should coincide with the end of the school year for mainland states. After Hurricane Maria devastated the island, more than 10,000 students from Puerto Rico enrolled in Florida schools. These children have already had their lives and educational experiences disrupted by a devastating storm and deserve the opportunity to complete their school year.
We understand Puerto Rico last requested that FEMA extend the TSA program through May 14, 2018, with a midterm eligibility review on April 20, 2018. Nevertheless, we encourage proper coordination between FEMA and Puerto Rico to ensure families are not needlessly uprooted and are able to stay through the remainder of the school year.
Thank you for your attention to this matter