FEMA expires assistance program for Hurricane Maria evacuees

Over $400M spent on housing assistance for hurricane evacuees in last 10 months

By Troy Campbell - Reporter

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - FEMA's Temporary Sheltering Assistance program is set to expire this weekend, leaving hundreds of Central Florida families without a place to stay.

Evacuees and activists had been hoping for a solution that would be in place by this weekend, but that hasn't happened. That means about 400 families in Central Florida who left Puerto Rico will stop receiving money to pay for their hotels.

"FEMA's Transitional Sheltering Assistance for Texas and Puerto Rico residents affected by last fall's hurricanes will be ending this Saturday," said assistant administrator Keith Turi in a video posted to Twitter on Friday.

The program had launched as a two-week assistance program at the time Hurricane Maria hit, but it kept being extended.

The federal government said that it has spent more than $400 million on housing assistance alone for hurricane evacuees over the last 10 months.

Following Hurricane Maria, Florida became home to tens of thousands of people fleeing Puerto Rice because of the damage.

FEMA said that 97 percent of the people who originally signed up for the housing assistance program have since found other places to stay, understanding that there is still 3 percent left. 

"We recognize that this deadline will be a difficult time for some families, but know that FEMA continues to work with our partners to provide continued help to find longer-term housing options," Turi said.

Gov. Rick Scott took a trip to Washington, D.C. this week to meet with HUD secretary Ben Carson to try to come up with a long-term solution.

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