Senators have introduced legislation to provide stable housing for hurricane survivors after Trump refused to activate program to aid evacuees from Puerto Rico
Washington (June 7, 2018) – Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today met with Puerto Rican families from Western Massachusetts and pledged to continue fighting for a long-term housing solution. At the end of May, Senators Warren and Markey introduced the Housing Victims of Major Disasters Act of 2018, legislation that would activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) to provide stable housing for survivors of major hurricanes. DHAP is a partnership between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and it provides subsidies that help survivors pay rent, put down a security deposit, or pay for utilities. The program was implemented after previous major disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Despite the large-scale damage caused by Hurricanes Maria in Puerto Rico, FEMA has refused to set up DHAP as part of its recovery efforts. The legislation introduced by Senators Warren and Markey is supported by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Oxfam, the Hispanic Federation, the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and UnidosUS.
Below is a joint statement from Senators Warren and Markey:
“Families in Western Massachusetts and all across the country still struggling after being displaced by Hurricane Maria have been abandoned by FEMA and the Trump administration as they face a housing crisis. With the deadline approaching for the end of temporary housing assistance, we will keep pushing for longer-term housing aid and working to support those evacuees who have made Massachusetts their home.”
The Senators’ staffs have been working individually and consistently with families from Puerto Rico both in the community and in their offices and with those who have directly reached for a wide-range of assistance. The Senators’ offices are in regular communication with federal, state, and local officials about next steps in the response efforts. Senators Warren, Markey and others successfully pressed FEMA twice to extend the Transitional Shelter Assistance program, which is currently extended until June 30. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the Senators 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.