FEMA housing program for hurricane survivors ends this weekend

A FEMA program temporarily housing displaced survivors of last year's hurricanes is closing its doors this weekend.
By Rick Docksai | Jun 30, 2018
A FEMA program providing short-term housing for survivors of Hurricane Maria, Irma, and Harvey is drawing to a close this weekend after finding new permanent housing for around 97% of participants. The program, Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA), will require the remaining 3% to vacate their housing by Sunday morning.

TSA went into action after the three hurricanes devastated Puerto Rico and other U.S. communities in the Atlantic in August-September. The program has spent $432 million over the last nine months housing displaced survivors in living quarters, typically hotels, throughout the continental United States. Disaster case managers worked with each survivor to find him or her a permanent housing solution.

People in 54,637 hurricane-wrecked households enter the program. After the program extended the deadline for finding permanent housing twice, all but 3% were able to find new homes.

The 3% remainder includes nearly 1,800 Puerto Rican hurricane survivors, who will each receive counseling and a one-way ticket back to Puerto Rico, a FEMA representative told Newsweek. Many of these survivors said that they have had little success finding affordable housing in the continental United States, let alone jobs that will pay a living wage so that they can afford the security deposits that rental properties require.

Advocates also note that survivors of past hurricanes received comparably much more support. The TSA program ran nearly three times as long for survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, they said.

"The same program for those displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were extended to 26 months. PR victims have only been given 9 months," tweeted actor and playwright Lin Manuel Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, on Thursday.

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