Posted On November 08, 2017
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has opened the discussion on how to accommodate the displaced Puerto Rican population. Since September, much of the island of Puerto Rico remains without power, drinking water, and other essential utilities. Many buildings are irreparably damaged from the storm, as are thousands of miles of roads. Any relocation efforts face significant logistical challenges.
On October 25th, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello requested Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In some cases, TSA funds can be used as hotel vouchers in areas outside of the declared disaster area. In the case of Puerto Rico, there are very few hotels left unscathed by Hurricane Maria. At this time, the request remains under review.
Many Puerto Ricans are evacuating to the nearby contiguous United States, specifically Florida. Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that as of October 3rd, more than 73,000 Puerto Ricans had entered the state through the Miami and Orlando airports and the Port Everglades seaport. Florida’s disaster relief centers will also require funding to continue operating and providing assistance to evacuees.
While relocation could be a short-term option for those impacted by Hurricane Maria, long-term recovery remains uncertain. In 2005, more than 145,000 temporary housing units were distributed to victims of Hurricane Katrina, and ended up housing displaced throughout the Gulf Coast for almost seven years. Even if FEMA distributes TSA Funds, repairing Puerto Rico’s power grid will take months or longer. HUD and FEMA will continue to weigh options and work diligently to provide a sustainable, long-term solution.