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FEMA program offering 1,800 Puerto Ricans housing to end Saturday

June 30 (UPI) — Saturday marks the last day of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s temporary housing program for nearly 1,800 Puerto Rican survivors of Hurricane Maria.

The emergency shelter program currently provides 1,744 families whose homes were severely damaged in the September 2017 storm with hotels and motels free-of-charge on the island, in the District of Columbia and 28 states. The program has helped more than 7,000 families since October. Of those families currently benefiting, more than a third stayed in Florida, ABC News reported.

They will have to move out on Sunday, CNN reported.

Saturday is the last day for those families to make travel arrangements for long-term housing and get FEMA Transportation Assistance to cover the cost of moving back to Puerto Rico, FEMA announced this month. They won’t be able to use FEMA Transportation Assistance funds to travel back to Puerto Rico after Sunday.

The emergency shelter program also assisted Hurricane Harvey and Irma survivors for 10 months. The Transitional Sheltering Assistance has been extended a number of times since Harvey hit Texas in August, Irma hit Florida Sept. 10 and Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20.

“The program is intended to provide emergency support to individuals and families by providing hotel stays as a bridge to longer-term housing,” FEMA’s Assistant Administrator for Recovery Keith Turi announced in a FEMA Twitter post. “Over the last 10 months, the TSA program has provided sheltering to more than 60,000 households in Puerto Rico and Texas, making it the longest emergency sheltering mission in the history of the program.”

Turi said 97 percent of families have been able to repair their homes or transition to other housing, and FEMA and partner agencies are working closely to help families still in transitioning from the program. FEMA assistance has also included money for home repairs, rental assistance and help with transportation.

Over the past 10 months, FEMA has spent more than $432 million on the emergency shelters, and provided rental assistance to more than 25,000 families to help them find long-term housing.

“Federal, state, and voluntary organization partners will continue to provide assistance through disaster case management to those who still require long-term solutions,” FEMA announced.

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