U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) met with a group of approximately 100 displaced Puerto Rican residents in Washington D.C. today.
The group of displaced Americans spent the day on Capitol Hill urging lawmakers to do more to help provide affordable housing to the thousands of displaced families who, like them, still cannot return home to Puerto Rico eight months after Hurricane Maria hit.
Nelson told the group he will continue to do everything he can to help them through this difficult time and urged them to convince other lawmakers to support a bill he filed last month that would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to continue providing displaced Puerto Rican families with housing assistance through, at least, February 2019. A copy of the bill is available here.
Nelson has also filed legislation aimed at making already-available housing more affordable for displaced families. That legislation would, among other things, provide local communities with additional HUD Section 8 Housing vouchers, which they could then make available to displaced families in their areas. The voucher can be used to make market-rate housing more affordable for displaced families by capping the rental rate at no more than 30 percent of an individual’s income. A copy of the bill is available here.
A few of the other things Nelson has done recently to try to make more affordable housing available to displaced families include:
- On September 21, 2017, Nelson sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long urging him to extend the agency’s Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program, which provides short-term housing, such as hotel rooms, to those displaced by Hurricane Irma.
- On October 26, 2017, Nelson and Rubio sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long in support of Puerto Rico’s request for assistance under the Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program.
- On November 15, 2017, Nelson wrote a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long and HUD Director Ben Carson calling on the agencies to work together to provide housing assistance to thousands of displaced Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island residents.
- On January 5, 2018, Nelson and Senator Rubio sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long, asking him to work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to address the long-term housing needs of families in Florida displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
- On January 31, 2018, Nelson joined Rubio in sending a letter to the Senate Banking Committee requesting a hearing on the housing crisis in Florida in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria—including the expiration of foreclosure forbearance, a shortage in affordable rental housing, and the absence of a long-term strategy to help those displaced by the storms. The letter highlights the need to examine how all levels of government responded to the housing concerns of those affected by the storms.
- On April 3, 2018, Nelson and Soto sent a letter to Pres. Trump urging the administration to do more to expedite assistance to people on the island.
- On April 18, 2018, Nelson urged FEMA to extend housing assistance for storm victims through end of school year.
- On May 17, 2018, Nelson filed a bill to force FEMA to continue providing housing assistance to thousands of families displaced by the storm under its Disaster Housing Assistance Program. A copy of the legislation is available here.
- On May 18, 2018, Nelson and Rubio called on FEMA to extend its agreement to pay the full cost of Puerto Rico’s post-hurricane emergency recovery efforts for – at least – 90 more days.