GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico – Hurricane Maria survivors receiving direct leasing or rental assistance from FEMA now have until Sept. 20, 2019 to find permanent housing.
FEMA’s rental assistance program distributes payment to survivors for temporary housing. With direct lease, the agency pays landlords or property managers directly.
Normally, the deadline for these programs is 18 months from the declaration date, which was March 20, 2019 for Maria. But because of extenuating circumstance, such as a shortage of rental properties and qualified contractors and laborers and new building code requirements, the deadline has been extended by six months.
These programs are not meant as a permanent housing solution for survivors. They offer temporary shelter while disaster survivors find a safe and habitable place to live. Safe and habitable means that doors, roof and windows are structurally sound and gas, heating, plumbing and sewer and septic systems function properly.
As of Feb. 19, 174 households are participating in FEMA’s direct leasing program and 281 are receiving rental assistance – 241 on the mainland.
FEMA representatives continue to meet with survivors in these programs regularly to help them develop a long-term housing plan. FEMA also helps connect families with organizations that offer additional resources.
Hundreds of thousands of homeowners continue to repair and rebuild their hurricane-damaged properties with assistance from several sources and programs. So far, FEMA has disbursed $755 million in housing assistance. Over $1.7 billion in low-interest disaster loans has been approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration for home repairs and replacement of property.
Other FEMA funded housing programs include Tu Hogar Renace and VALOR, or Voluntary Agencies Leading and Organizing Repair. Tu Hogar Renace, which is funded by FEMA but administered by Puerto Rico’s Department of Housing, has made emergency repairs to over 108,000 homes, at an average of $10,000 per home. Many of the repairs were done while labor and resources were in short supply throughout the island.
The VALOR program, which involves voluntary agencies using FEMA-funded materials, has helped repair over 3,000 homes, at an average of $3,485 per home.
Survivors can also receive additional information on housing and other recovery resources by visiting a Community Recovery Center near them. To find one in your area, go to www.fema.gov/disaster/4339/CRC.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362) 711/VRS - Video Relay Service. Multilingual operators are available. (Press 2 for Spanish). TTY call 800-462-7585.
Follow us at: