Lawmakers call on FEMA to provide housing assistance for evacuees
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Florida lawmakers, led by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), are calling on FEMA to quickly approve the governor of Puerto Rico’s request for additional assistance to help provide temporary housing for evacuees in Florida and elsewhere.
Nelson, in a letter he sent today with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and others, urged FEMA Administrator Brock Long to approve Puerto Rico’s request for Transitional Shelter Assistance, or TSA, a FEMA program designed to provide short-term lodging to individuals and families whose homes are uninhabitable following a natural disaster.
“The TSA program provides short-term lodging for individuals and families who are unable to return to their homes,” the lawmakers wrote. “With more than 3.5 million individuals affected by this storm, approving Puerto Rico’s request for TSA will provide desperately needed living accommodations for affected Puerto Rican families.”
FEMA’s TSA program makes direct payments to participating hotels and motels to provide temporary housing for evacuees.
If authorized, evacuees in Florida and elsewhere will be eligible to use the program to stay in a hotel or motel for a limited time and have the costs covered by FEMA.
According to the state of Florida, more than 73,000 evacuees from Puerto Rico have already arrived in Florida since October 3rd, many of whom have no ties to the area and are unable to afford housing.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello requested Transitional Shelter Assistance for evacuees on Oct. 25.
In addition to Nelson and Rubio, the letter urging FEMA to quickly approve that request was also signed by Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Val Demings (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Al Lawson (D-FL), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), John Rutherford (R-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).
Following is the text of the lawmakers’ letter, and a PDF copy is available here:
October 26, 2017
The Honorable Brock Long
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472
Dear Administrator Long:
In response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, we write in full support of Puerto Rico’s request for assistance under the Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program. It is critical that we provide Puerto Ricans with essential lodging assistance during the recovery process.
The TSA program provides short-term lodging for individuals and families who are unable to return to their homes for an extended period due to a natural disaster, such as a hurricane. With more than 3.5 million individuals affected by this storm, approving Puerto Rico’s request for TSA will provide desperately needed living accommodations for affected Puerto Rican families.
Unfortunately, it will be months before we fully realize the devastation Hurricane Maria has caused to Puerto Rico. While families seek stability and safety in the aftermath of this storm, we request swift approval of this invaluable program.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.