Senate Republicans yesterday blocked effort to provide permanent housing assistance to 2017 hurricane victims


Senators Markey, Warren introduced legislation to activate federal program to provide stable housing for survivors of major hurricanes


Boston (June 29, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement criticizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Senate Republicans for blocking the establishment of permanent housing assistance for victims of Hurricane Maria as the deadline for temporary housing assistance arrives tomorrow, June 30 At the end of May, Senators Markey and Warren introduced the Housing Victims of Major Disasters Act, legislation that would activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) to provide stable housing for survivors of major hurricanes. The program was implemented after previous major disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Despite the large-scale damage caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, FEMA has refused to set up DHAP as part of its recovery efforts. Earlier this week, Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) tried to pass legislation that would force FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to activate DHAP. Senator Markey co-sponsored of the legislation, which would assist those impacted by 2017 disasters.


“Tomorrow’s deadline is nothing short of a complete failure on the part of the Trump administration to support the American citizens of Puerto Rico,” said Senator Markey. “We failed our brothers and sisters when Hurricane Maria hit. We failed them when they needed help rebuilding the island and their homes. And we fail them again now as FEMA washes its hands of the matter and ends temporary housing assistance. Forcing hundreds of families in Massachusetts into uncertain living situations at best and into homelessness at worst is Donald Trump’s latest assault on basic humanity and decency.”


“Despite having the tools to ensure that none of the families displaced from 2017 disasters face homelessness, FEMA has repeatedly declined to engage in longer-term housing solutions. Republicans had the opportunity to stand up for Puerto Rico and pass legislation yesterday to help provide stable housing assistance, but they, too, turned their back on these American citizens. I won’t stop fighting until the Puerto Rican people are given the fair and equal treatment they deserve as Americans.”


On June 21, Senators Markey and Warren sent a letter to FEMA requesting the agency establish the DHAP program to provide stable housing solutions for evacuees from Hurricane Maria and asking that it reconsider denied applications for benefits after new reporting revealed significantly higher proportions of Hurricane Maria applications are denied, compared to other disasters.


The Senator’s staff has been working with families from Puerto Rico both in the community and in the office and with those who have directly reached for a wide-range of assistance. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Senator Markey joined Senator Warren and visited Puerto Rico to survey the damage, assessed the work and resources necessary to help the island fully recover, and spoke personally with residents and government officials to discuss how best to support the people of Puerto Rico.