Conn. steps in as FEMA rescinds benefits for displaced PR families

Jesenia Rodriquez talks about how her family fled Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria and is receiving help to relocate in Connecticut. With Rodriquez is her sister Kristal Montanez. Connecticut Post photo

Connecticut's governor, Dannel P. Malloy, is asking FEMA to immediately reverse its sudden decision to rescind housing benefits for 36 displaced Puerto Rican families residing in the state.

The families have been here since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. They have relied on Transitional Shelter Assistance, but the state will still provide assistance to ensure the 36 families are able to temporarily stay in their current housing, the governor said.

“At the very least, I urge you to correct this egregious error and immediately grant a TSA extension, through February 14, to these 36 families,” Malloy said in a letter to FEMA.

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“The State of Connecticut has welcomed our fellow citizens, including at least 1,972 students into Connecticut schools and has gone above and beyond to provide an array of state services and disaster case management,” Malloy said. “The federal government has an obligation to these citizens as well. If FEMA’s decision stands and you displace these 36 families from their temporary homes, it will be nothing short of tragic.”

Three days after the state was informed by FEMA that its request to extend TSA eligibility had been granted through Feb. 14, Malloy said FEMA notified the state that the extension had been sent in error and the families were once again ineligible for TSA and would be forced to vacate their hotel rooms.

“This cold-hearted and irrational decision will have disastrous consequences for these families from Puerto Rico," U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, added.

"I saw the devastation in Puerto Rico with my own eyes when I visited the island ... these families’ homes have been ruined, and they don’t have access to clean drinking water. I am working hard to make sure FEMA reverses this decision, and to assure the Puerto Rican families in Connecticut that we are fighting on their behalf,” wrote Murphy.

With information from the Connecticut Post

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