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Tue Feb 13, 2018, 10:16 AM

Time Is Running Out for Puerto Ricans Sheltering in Hotels

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The desperation that followed Maria’s devastation and the stumbling response has given way to uncertainty for many Puerto Ricans throughout the country. Some who left for the mainland United States have returned home, while others have laid roots in new places, finding jobs and securing permanent housing.

Yet thousands of other families remain in limbo and have been relying on hotel rooms provided by FEMA as they decide whether to go back or forge ahead elsewhere. Many people staying in the hotels have described confusion over where their cases stand and anxiety about whether they will be able to stay as deadlines rapidly approach — for some, as soon as this week.

“It has me on pins and needles,” said Wanda Arroyo, 56, who has been living in a hotel in Queens. “It has gotten to the point that I don’t even pick up the letters slipped under my door because of the expectation that one will say I’m being kicked out.”

Nearly 4,000 families spread across 40 states and Puerto Rico remain in hotels under FEMA’s transitional sheltering assistance program, federal officials said. Most families — more than 1,500 — were in Florida, while hundreds of others were in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York. More than 800 were in hotels in Puerto Rico.


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