FEMA grants Puerto Rico governor’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance extension request
SAN JUAN – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Thursday that it is granting Puerto Rico Go. Ricardo Rosselló’s request for an “unconditional extension” of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program until June 30 and will offer transportation back to the island for families who remain stateside under the program.
“We thank FEMA for listening to our request and granting this much-needed extension to Puerto Ricans who are staying in other United States jurisdictions through the TSA program. We hope that this is an opportunity for Puerto Ricans who so long for it to return to the Island, return to normalcy, and join the recovery process of the Island,” Rosselló said in a release.
As of Thursday, there were 2,310 families checked into TSA-participating hotels in more than 30 states and Puerto Rico. Of those families, approximately 10 percent have expressed interest in returning to the Island, according to the governor’s announcing release. FEMA will provide direct payments to airlines to cover the cost of airfare, up to $100 in baggage costs, and pet fees.
FEMA also announced in its own release Thursday that it will be the final extension of the program for hurricanes Irma and Maria.
It has provided hotel rooms for more than 7,000 families through the TSA program since October and is “continuing to help those in need find longer-term housing solutions,” FEMA wrote.
People participating in the TSA program now have 60 days to “solidify their recovery plans to locate longer-term housing,” FEMA said, adding that it is “actively working with social service agencies and non-profit organizations to assist survivors, as well as providing direct assistance.”
The agency is providing “eligible survivors various forms of short-term housing assistance, including rental assistance, temporary housing through a direct-leasing program, and funds to make repairs to their homes,” it further said.
Congress has appropriated and the U.S. Housing Department (HUD) has awarded nearly $20 billion in disaster-related Community Development Block Grants to Puerto Rico to “support long-term housing recovery efforts.”
FEMA explained that its TSA program is designed to provide emergency shelter in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, and is only intended to be short term.
The agency has paid more than $1.2 billion in Individual Assistance grants and the Small Business Administration (SBA) has provided more than $1.5 billion in low-interest disaster loans, according to the governor’s office.