FEMA extends Transitional Sheltering Assistance for Hurricane Maria survivors
SAN JUAN – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s request to extend the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program for some 1,700 Hurrican Maria survivors whose benefits were scheduled to end.
The TSA program allows survivors who are unable to return to their damaged home to shelter in a hotel or motel.
On Feb. 28, the governor asked for, and received, an extension of the TSA program with additional eligibility requirements through May 14, with a mid-term eligibility review on April 20 based upon Puerto Rico’s requested criteria.
On Wednesday, the governor requested that FEMA grant a new extension of the
program, and on Friday, FEMA said it received an additional letter clarifying the governor’s extension request.
“Based on Puerto Rico’s previously established eligibility criteria, approximately 1,700 of the 2,800 survivors checked into participating-TSA hotel rooms would no longer be eligible to continue in the program. Those survivors began receiving their ineligibility notifications Monday,” a FEMA release reads.
The Puerto Rico government requested “an unconditional extension on April 18 until June 30, which would allow students to finish the school year without having to be uprooted once again,” a Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) statement reads, adding that talks with FEMA continue so that an extension until June 30 is granted.
“Of the 1,700 families, FEMA’s case reviews have shown that hundreds either have no home damage from Hurricane Maria, have voluntarily withdrawn their applications for federal assistance. However, with this extension, those families will be allowed to continue participating in the program while FEMA performs additional case reviews of their eligibility,” the agency adds.
Survivors wanting to appeal any TSA eligibility criteria should contact FEMA at 1-800 621-3362 with supporting documentation to contest ineligibility.
FEMA assigned the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Children and Families to conduct “immediate disaster case management, and those case managers are working with survivors in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida and Illinois at the request of those state officials.”
Since the program became available to Puerto Rico survivors, more than 10,000 families have participated in 40 different states at a cost of more than $64 million, according to FEMA.