Governor Ron DeSantis today announced that the state of Florida will receive nearly $252 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse costs associated with the COVID-19 response. [Read more…] about Governor Ron DeSantis Announces FEMA has Awarded $252 Million to Florida for COVID-19 Operations
Governor DeSantis also announced an additional $2.8 million in matching funds for debris removal in Mexico Beach
Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long visited local communities in the Florida Panhandle that were heavily impacted by Hurricane Michael. Stops included Panama City, Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe.
CFO Jimmy Patronis will join Governor Ron DeSantis and FEMA Administrator Brock Longto to visit communities impacted by Hurricane Michael on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. [Read more…] about CFO Jimmy Patronis Joins Governor Ron DeSantis and FEMA Administrator Brock Long on Visit to Florida Panhandle
Governor Ron DeSantis will be visiting communities impacted by Hurricane Michael along with FEMA Administrator Brock Long on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. The Governor will also join state and local officials for a briefing and roundtable on the latest recovery efforts. [Read more…] about ICYMI: Governor Ron DeSantis to Visit Florida Panhandle with FEMA Administrator
Governor Rick Scott today highlighted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) decision, following his request, to approve Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) for families in Bay County. TSA provides FEMA funded short-term lodging in hotels and motels for eligible disaster survivors who are unable to return home for an extended period due to disaster-related damages or inaccessibility of their communities. [Read more…] about Gov. Scott: FEMA Approves Sheltering Assistance for Bay County
Senate Republicans today blocked an attempt by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) to have the Senate take up and pass legislation he filed to force FEMA to continue providing temporary housing assistance to hundreds of displaced families who are still unable to return to their homes in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. [Read more…] about GOP blocks Nelson attempt to extend FEMA housing assistance for displaced storm victims
Recent reports suggest the death toll in Puerto Rico could be 70 times higher than previously reported
Thousands of displaced Puerto Rican families could be kicked out of hotels on June 30
Nelson’s bill would provide housing assistance through Feb. 2019
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation today to require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to activate its Disaster Housing Assistance Program to continue providing housing assistance to thousands of families still displaced after last year’s hurricanes – including thousands of Puerto Rican families forced to flee the island in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
The move comes just two days after FEMA denied the governor of Puerto Rico’s request to activate the program. And just weeks after the agency announced that it will end a separate temporary housing assistance program that’s currently providing hotel rooms to hundreds of displaced Puerto Rican families living in Florida on June 30 – leaving many of them with no assistance and nowhere to go after the program ends.
“This administration has failed the people of Puerto Rico,” Nelson said. “If they’re not going to act, then Congress must. These displaced families are American citizens who desperately need our help. We have a responsibility to help them, just as we would want to be helped if we were in their shoes.”
If approved, Nelson’s legislation would require FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to immediately activate a joint interagency housing program, known as the Disaster Housing Assistance Program, or DHAP, to continue providing housing assistance to the victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria – including hundreds of displaced Puerto Rican families living in Florida – through February 2019.
The DHAP program was first activated in 2007, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to help relocate storm victims out of defective FEMA trailers and into more traditional housing. It was used again in 2008 to provide housing assistance to victims of Hurricane Ike and Gustav.
Once activated, DHAP provides monthly rent subsidies to eligible families displaced by a storm to help them pay for temporary housing in the wake of a disaster. The program can provide eligible families with housing assistance for up to 18 months after a disaster is declared, which means it could provide victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria with housing assistance through February 2019.
The program is initiated through an interagency agreement between FEMA and HUD, where FEMA funds the program and establishes the eligibility criteria for displaced families, while HUD uses its existing processes to administer the program and provide displaced families with the assistance they need.
On Tuesday, FEMA rejected a formal request made by the governor of Puerto Rico in December to activate the program. If approved, Nelson’s legislation would require the agencies to immediately activate DHAP for anyone still displaced by last year’s storms – including hundreds of displaced Puerto Rican families in Florida who could soon be forced out of their hotel rooms on June 30.
In addition to Nelson, the bill is cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
A copy of the legislation is available here.
Governor Rick Scott made the following statement today regarding FEMA extending the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program (TSA) for families who were displaced due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria. For more information click HERE.
Governor Scott said, “Florida has done everything possible to help our neighbors in Puerto Rico with their continued recovery from Hurricane Maria. Over the past seven months since Maria made landfall, we have remained in constant communication with Governor Ricardo Rosselló and his leadership team and I have made five trips to Puerto Rico to offer our full assistance and guidance. Florida remains the only state with a Host-State Agreement with FEMA to help families from Puerto Rico. I also recently spoke with FEMA Administrator Brock Long about our joint efforts to make sure we are doing everything possible to help those who evacuated here. This includes keeping the FEMA case managers I requested on the ground across our state to offer assistance. I’m glad to hear that FEMA is once again extending Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) for the many families from Puerto Rico in the Sunshine State and we continue to stand ready to assist in any way possible.”
Action taken by Governor Scott following Hurricane Maria:
- On September 28th, at the request of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Governor Scott traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico to help coordinate response and recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria.
- On October 5th, the Governor entered into a host-state agreement with FEMA – Florida is the only state willing to enter into this type of agreement to help families displaced by Hurricane Maria.
- On October 11th, Governor Scott met with Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture Congressman Mike Conaway, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Congressman Michael McCaul, and Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón regarding Hurricane Maria recovery.
- On October 30th, the Governor’s office sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget. See the letter HERE.
- On November 3rd, Governor Scott led a delegation of Florida utility providers to Puerto Rico at the invitation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló.
- On November 9th, the Governor activated the State Emergency Response Team to assist families displaced by Hurricane Maria. See the Governor’s press release HERE.
- On November 15th, the Governor sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan urging them to support Florida’s efforts to support those displaced from Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. See the Governor’s letter HERE.
- On December 21st, Governor Scott spoke with Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón regarding Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria.
- On December 22nd, Governor Scott spoke with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen regarding recovery efforts for Florida and Puerto Rico.
- On January 3rd, Governor Scott sent a letter to the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations urging the Senate to immediately pass a significant Hurricane Irma and Maria disaster relief package. See the Governor’s letter HERE.
- On January 11th, Governor Scott spoke with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long regarding the FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program and the importance of continued communication between federal, state and local partners as families continue to recover from Hurricane Maria.
- On January 12th, Governor Scott met with Governor Ricardo Rosselló and joined him for a Puerto Rico recovery town hall meeting to discuss ongoing relief efforts.
- On January 24th, Governor Scott, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, California Governor Jerry Brown and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló issued a joint letter urging the U.S. Senate to improve and expeditiously pass supplemental disaster funding, and for Congress to send the bill to the President. See the letter HERE.
- On February 5th, Governor Scott visited Puerto Rico with Governor Ricardo Rosselló to assist with ongoing Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.
- On February 7th, Governor Scott spoke with FEMA Administrator Brock Long regarding Governor Scott’s recent trip to Puerto Rico.
- On February 7th, Governor Scott announced a new partnership to connect families displaced by Hurricane Maria with jobs in Florida. See the announcement HERE.
- On March 5th, Governor Scott traveled to Puerto Rico to meet with Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón and attend the Puerto Rico State of the State Address.
- On April 18th, Governor Scott met with Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón in Washington D.C. to discuss how Florida is working to help Puerto Rican evacuees in the state.
- On April 18th, Governor Scott also spoke with FEMA Administrator Brock Long to discuss the FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program and the importance of keeping the FEMA case managers the Governor previously requested on the ground across the state.
- On April 23rd, at the invitation of Puerto Rico Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State Luis G. Rivera-Marin, Governor Scott traveled to Puerto Rico for the fifth time since Hurricane Maria devastated the island to continue to offer guidance, advice and assistance regarding ongoing recovery efforts. Governor Scott met with emergency management officials, federal officials and Puerto Rican leaders. The Governor also visited with volunteer workers with the American Red Cross in Puerto Rico to thank them for their continued efforts.
Hundreds of displaced Puerto Rican families who have been living in Florida since Hurricane Maria devastated the island could soon find themselves homeless with nowhere to go, if FEMA follows through with plans to stop providing them the temporary housing assistance they have come to rely on in wake of the storm.
FEMA officials told federal lawmakers this week that they plan to stop providing Transitional Shelter Assistance, or TSA, to more than 1,600 displaced families across the country – including 600 in Florida – as early as Friday. The move would likely cause hundreds of displaced families to be suddenly evicted from their hotel rooms and leave them scrambling to find a new, affordable place to live.
To help those still relying on the FEMA program and prevent them from being suddenly evicted, a group of mostly Florida lawmakers – led by U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) – today called on FEMA to reconsider its decision to abruptly end the program for these families; and instead work with the governor of Puerto Rico to extend the program through, at least, the remainder of the current school year.
“At a minimum, the deadline for TSA should coincide with the end of the school year for mainland states,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter today to FEMA Administrator Brock Long and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, “After Hurricane Maria devastated the island, more than 10,000 students from Puerto Rico enrolled in Florida schools. These children have already had their lives and educational experiences disrupted by a devastating storm and deserve the opportunity to complete their school year.”
FEMA’s TSA program pays hotel owners to provide hotel rooms to displaced victims of a storm. Once FEMA decides it will no longer provide a displaced family with TSA benefits, hotel owners will often evict them from their property.
With some parts of Florida already experiencing a shortage of affordable housing due, in part, to a sudden influx of displaced Puerto Ricans living there since the storm, these sudden evictions could leave some families – who are still unable to return home to Puerto Rico – with nowhere to live.
In addition to Nelson and Rubio, the letter sent today urging FEMA to continue providing assistance to these families was signed by Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Darren Soto (D-FL).
A pdf copy of the letter is available here.