Federal program housing nearly 1,800 Puerto Ricans post-Maria coming to an end

The final day for nearly 1,800 Puerto Ricans to receive temporary housing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) arrives Saturday.

FEMA's transitional sheltering assistance helps natural disaster victims with temporary housing in hotels and motels if their homes were severely damaged during a storm.

There are 1,744 families checked into hotels and motels in 28 states, the District of Columbia and in Puerto Rico. The largest concentration is in Florida with 589 families sheltered in hotels.

Some 7,030 families have benefited from the program since Oct. 30, 2017, according to the agency. The program has been extended numerous times after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit on Sept. 7 and Sept. 20, 2017, respectively.

In a statement last week, FEMA said Maria victims who plan to move back to Puerto Rico have until Saturday to make travel arrangements using the federal agency's transportation assistance to cover travel costs, FEMA said in a statement last week.

The agency said it would cover airfare expenses and baggage for applicants and members of their household.

Sunday will be the last day for hurricane victims to travel to Puerto Rico using FEMA assistance or start paying out of pocket for housing.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and six other senators Thursday wrote a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long urging him to extend the deadline.

"Given the continuing housing needs of displaced individuals and families after Hurricane Maria, we urge you to grant a sixty-day extension of the TSA program," the senators wrote.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority reported that 2,344 customers are still without power after Hurricane Maria, continuing the longest blackout in U.S. history.
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