Some Hurricane Maria evacuees at risk of losing transitional shelter benefits

Posted: Updated:

Some Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria who are now living in shelters or hotels in New York City as part of the Transitional Shelter Assistance Program could be at risk of displacement.

According to the organization YNCCA, more than 169 evacuees who were at a Bushwick phone bank to talk to officials learned that FEMA may end the  program, which gives short-term lodging assistance for evacuees who aren't able to return home for an extended or indeterminate period of time following a disaster.

Some evacuees spoke with a FEMA representative on the phone and were told that their stay in New York City would be extended until May 14. Within hours, FEMA called back some of the evacuees and told them that they would lose their transitional sheltering assistance benefits and were asked to check out of their hotels on April 21.

Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to the decision with a letter to FEMA, asking the agency to work with Puerto Rico to extend the TSA program beyond the May 14 deadline. De Blasio said that the extension is necessary, and the city is committed to helping all those in need of hurricane-related assistance.

There are over 2,100 households registered with the city’s Hurricane Relief Service Center. Some of those families now tell News 12 they don’t know where to turn.

News 12 reached out to FEMA for comment on the situation regarding the potential displacement of the evacuees, but has not heard a response.

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