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June 29, 2018

Ranking Members Press FEMA Administrator on Slow Hurricane Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico

(WASHINGTON) – With the 2018 hurricane season underway and Puerto Rican families still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Small Business, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, sent a letter to William Long, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), pressing him on the agency’s refusal to stand up a Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) that would establish a partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and FEMA to provide temporary housing vouchers for residents in Puerto Rico in need of assistance. 

In the letter, the lawmakers expressed concerns about the Trump Administration’s response to Puerto Rico compared to other disaster-stricken areas in the continental U.S. and demanded answers from FEMA on how the agency plans to help families recover from these disasters effectively.

“[I]f FEMA continues to insist that DHAP is not needed in Puerto Rico, we request that you identify specific policy changes that FEMA will make to address ongoing concerns with the existing options for transitional housing assistance that FEMA is providing,” the lawmakers wrote. “In particular, FEMA must address concerns that families are struggling to regain normalcy and stability in the face of multiple short term extensions of their housing assistance and the burdensome requirements that they need to meet to qualify for those extensions. There are also concerns that families that have chosen to leave Puerto Rico have little help finding rental units in the continental U.S. Whether through DHAP or through changes in existing temporary housing assistance programs, FEMA must address these shortfalls and ensure that it is doing everything possible to help families recover from these disasters effectively.” 

The full text of the letter.

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Media contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978