Bill Nelson meets with Puerto Rico evacuees in Washington
A group of displaced Puerto Rico residents met with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on Capitol Hill on Thursday, part of a campaign urging lawmakers to do more to provide housing for evacuees in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
According to a statement from Nelson’s office, the senator said he hoped the group of about 100 evacuees would lobby lawmakers to support Nelson’s bill requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to extend aid through February 2019 for people affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The bill would activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program, which has been used after storms such as Hurricane Katrina, to help evacuees from Puerto Rico.
Hotel vouchers issued through FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, used by hundreds of displaced Puerto Rican families in Florida, are slated to expire June 30.
Nelson also asked for support of another bill he filed, which would provide more HUD Section 8 Housing vouchers to local communities for use by displaced families.
Nelson is in a heated race for re-election with Gov. Rick Scott, who this week released an ad saying Nelson is “exploiting” the Maria situation for political gain.
“Now Nelson is attacking the one public official who has actually helped the people of Puerto Rico,” states the ad, which notes that the Florida governor has visited the island six times and that he “pushed” federal emergency crews to respond more quickly to the disaster.
The ad came after Scott was criticized last week for saying “I don’t know what I’d do differently” from the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria in a press conference on the island.