U.S. judge grants reprieve to Puerto Ricans facing eviction


 By: Joey Roulette

 

KISSIMMEE, Fl. (Reuters) – A federal judge will hold a hearing on Monday that could determine the fate of hundreds of Puerto Ricans who fled the hurricane-ravaged island last year and are lodging in motels, after granting them a reprieve from eviction over the weekend.

The last benefits of a federal aid program for Hurricane Maria evacuees from the island had been set to run out on Sunday morning, cutting off housing assistance for the group residing in state-side motels.

But late on Saturday U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin of Massachusetts ordered the U.S. government to extend the aid for hotel vouchers to at least check-out time on July 4. At the hearing, he could decide whether to extend it further.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has said 1,722 families are currently receiving aid under its housing program, 585 of whom reside in Central Florida motels.

FEMA said in a statement on Sunday it was aware of the judge’s decision and was contacting vendors to comply with the court order.

“There’s a couple tough decisions people really have to make,” Soto told reporters.

Hurricane Maria dealt a vicious blow to an already struggling island that has been in recession for more than a decade, with a poverty rate near 50 percent.

Maria destroyed or significantly damaged more than a third of about 1.2 million occupied homes on the island, the government estimates.

The task of rebuilding Puerto Rico’s housing stock ultimately falls to the territory government, which has no ability to pay for it after racking up $120 billion in bond and pension debt in the years before the storm.

Reporting by Joey Roulette; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Nick Zieminski

Published by CityFella

Moved to the Big Tomata in the nineties from San Francisco. No Suburbs for me with its single colored houses and lawns and the excitement of pulling out my trash can once a week. I'm a CityFella , a part time New Yorker. I'm happiest in the Center City where people the streets and people are alive. I'm still waiting to buy a 34th floor condo somewhere downtown/Midtown with a nightclub. "Hurry I'm old" My politics are somewhere in the middle with a needle that constantly moves. I'm too liberal to be a Republican and too conservative to be a Democrat. Everything interests me . I've come to love Sacratomato, Its a nice town in cheap sensible shoes .

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