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Housing Assistance For Maria Evacuees Extended To July 5

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Puerto Rico National Guard by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos
The Florida Channel
Damage from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

A judge has stopped FEMA from ending its housing assistance program for Puerto Rican families displaced by hurricane Maria. 

The move comes after advocates filed a lawsuit against FEMA to extend the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program.  A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for 12:45 Monday afternoon.

More than 1700 Puerto Ricans, including nearly 600 in Florida, are receiving assistance through the TSA program to help with hotel accommodation.

The program was set to end last Saturday, but US District Judge Leo Sorokin granted a temporary restraining order after a lawsuit filed by families displaced by Hurricane Maria, and civil rights organizations including Latino Justice PRLDEF.

The lawsuit says ending the housing assistance program puts evacuees “at risk of homelessness and other irreparable injury.”

It calls on FEMA to continue the TSA program until everyone eligible has received temporary housing assistance or found alternative permanent housing.

In a statement, FEMA said it was working to notify hotels that the TSA program is extended until July 5th to comply with the court’s ruling.

The agency says it’s also extending a transportation assistance program to help displaced Puerto Ricans who want to return to the island.