Last Wednesday (June 27), FEMA announced that the Transitional Shelter Assistance program will end on June 30 after helping displaced victims of Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, and Maria over the course of ten months. On Saturday night, U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to extend the TSA program until “at least” midnight on Tuesday as reported by NBC News. This may allow those who were using the aid for hotel stays to check out at midnight instead of noon of that day. Regardless of being given an extra 12 hours of shelter, hundreds of Puerto Ricans remain at a great risk of becoming homeless.
Formal @fema announcement halting evictions of Puerto Ricans just posted! Thank you everyone who helped us get this legal win! 1,744 Puerto Ricans will have a roof over their heads tonight and tomorrow we will fight to extend the window. #JustRecovery pic.twitter.com/LMWpqM2v7w
— LatinoJustice PRLDEF (@latinojustice) July 1, 2018
The judge’s order was made after civil rights group LatinoJustice PRLDEF filed a lawsuit against the government organization on Saturday. An attorney from the lawsuit said that the temporary restraining order of the program’s termination will affect approximately 1,744 people.
The manager of advocacy and digital strategy for LatinoJustice PRLDEF Christiaan Perez expressed the grief several Puerto Ricans are facing, despite the minimal extension, “Basically there’s a bunch of people who may be in bed now who think they have to move tomorrow. They can wake up tomorrow knowing they have a roof over their head for at least two more days,” said Perez.
FEMA is also offering displaced Puerto Ricans one-way plane tickets to return back to the island which is said to cover all travel costs including airfare, luggage, and pet fees. The funding of travel costs reigns from the transportation assistance program, which was extended for an additional 60 days. According to The Hill. Latino Justice’s chief of staff Denise Collazo describes the island as being “no way ready to receive” their natives. The civil rights group revealed in a statement that many will be left homeless once the program is officially over.