FEMA housing assistance program ends for some Puerto Rico evacue - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

FEMA housing assistance program ends for some Puerto Rico evacuees

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

The deadline has approached for Puerto Rican evacuees using federal housing assistance. 

Those who have not yet found a permanent address may have to head back to the island. 

Many have called a hotels in western Massachusetts 'home' for the past several months. 

"When you don’t have some very basic essentials like power and water and a home that is habitable, than you need to be able to find elsewhere," said Betty Medina-Lichtenstein with Enlace de Familias. 
 
Eugenio Davila Torres came to western Massachusetts to start a new life after the hurricane leveled his home.
 
"It’s a risk to go back to Puerto Rico [and] to rebuild because there is no electricity," he said. 
 
Davila said he was lucky enough to find a job in construction.
 
"I have a new opportunity for work, a new life, and education for my kids," Davila added. 
 
There are still a number of challenges in moving forward.

Davlia's home is still in need of major repairs, and fortunately, he was granted an extension.
 
"They didn’t want to give us an extension, but we fought for it, and thank god we’ve been given an extension until [February] 22," he noted. 
 
Hundreds of families moved into hotels funded through FEMA’s transitional shelter assistance program.
 
Much of the island still has no power.

"Some of the inspectors are saying homes are habitable, when they are not. So there is an appeal process that needs to happen, that doesn’t happen quickly," said Betty Medina. 
 
Enlace de Familias told Western Mass News that the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, also known as MEMA, is making sure that no one is put out on the street.

Enlace de Familias said the state will pick up the tab for families that were cut off from FEMA funding.

"These are our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico who are suffering. They are still trying to come along and stabilize Puerto Rico," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. 

For those who qualify, an extension can be granted until March 20.

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