'We Are Struggling': Aid to End for Families Displaced by Hurricane Maria - NECN


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'We Are Struggling': Aid to End for Families Displaced by Hurricane Maria



    Aid to End for Families Affected by Hurricane Maria

    A deadline is looming for several families in Dedham, Massachusetts, who were forced to leave Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

    (Published Monday, June 25, 2018)

    Dozens of families displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico will soon have to find new shelter in Massachusetts.

    At the end of June, FEMA will end its housing assistance funding, which has placed families in hotels as their community recovers.

    "I can't go back. I have to have my health back because I got two little girls," said Diane Rodriguez.

    In February, Rodriguez relocated to Massachusetts following September's storm. While her home sustained some damage, it was a back injury Rodriguez sustained while attempting to get water that ultimately forced her to leave with her children.

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    "We are struggling," Rodriguez said. "We don't have stability. That's what we need. Something stable where we can stay."

    Rodriguez is one of approximately 4,500 people from Puerto Rico who relocated to Massachusetts and sought federal assistance to reside in hotels. Throughout the recovery process, FEMA agreed to extend the duration of its financial support to help them remain in the area. However, last month, they announced the last extension would end June 30.

    The decision prompted harsh criticism from the state's congressional delegation, which sent a letter urging the agency to initiate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program, which has helped provide affordable housing for victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita.

    "We do need help, we do," Rodriguez said. "Because if we came from Puerto Rico, it was because of a reason."

    According to Gov. Charlie Baker's office, there are currently 338 evacuee households in Massachusetts. To assist them, families with children under the age of 18 will get 30-day extension in their hotel accommodations. The state hopes that enables them to find long-term solutions.

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