June 30, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces New Actions to Help Displaced Puerto Rican Families in New York State

Governor Cuomo Announces New Actions to Help Displaced Puerto Rican Families in New York State

Establishes New $1 Million Case Management Program to Connect Displaced Puerto Ricans with Critical Social Services, Housing, and Employment Opportunities

Announces Up to $10 Million to Support Targeted Job Training and Placement through the Department of Labor

Governor Sends Letter to FEMA and HUD Urging Extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program and Activation of the Disaster Housing Assistance Program - See Letter Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced new actions to assist Puerto Rican families in New York who were forced to flee their homes after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. With federal rental assistance set to expire at the end of June, the Governor is directing the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to establish a new $1 million program to provide robust case management services to displaced Puerto Ricans, and directing the Department of Labor to provide up to $10 million in job training and placement. Additionally, the Governor is calling on the federal government to extend the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program and to immediately activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program to ensure access to affordable housing.

"New York has stood with Puerto Rico from day one, welcoming families and individuals whose lives have been upended and homes have been destroyed by Hurricane Maria," Governor Cuomo said. "With the federal government once again turning their back on the people of Puerto Rico by allowing their assistance to expire long before the work is done, New York is committed to helping our fellow Americans rebuild and recover until the island is stronger and better than ever before."

At Governor Cuomo's direction, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is launching a new $1 million case management program to connect Puerto Rican evacuees with affordable housing programs funded by New York Homes and Community Renewal. The funding will be distributed to BronxWorks, Inc., CAMBA, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, and RiseBoro Community Partnership. These organizations will assist evacuees in identifying appropriate and affordable housing options, completing rental applications, obtaining assistance with move-in and furniture costs, and acquiring other resources.

Also at Governor Cuomo's direction, the New York State Department of Labor will make up to $10 million available to provide job training and placement for displaced Puerto Ricans in New York State. DOL secured up to $10 million in federal U.S. Department of Labor Disaster Recovery Evacuee Grant funds to provide reemployment services, with $1 million immediately available. DOL will work with community-based organizations to assess the skills profile of job seekers and connect them to training opportunities, refer them to open positions with New York businesses, and link them with other available supportive services.

Additionally, the Governor sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requesting that the June 30 deadline for the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program be extended, as many families still do not have safe, secure housing to return to in Puerto Rico. The Governor also called for activation of the Disaster Housing Assistance Program, which has been a crucial resource for families in need after numerous natural disasters, including Superstorm Sandy.

Office of Temporary and Disability Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, "Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State continues to help the people of Puerto Rico deal with these devastating circumstances. By providing access to critical services, individuals and families can reestablish themselves and begin the process of putting their lives back together."

Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner Ruthanne Visnauskas said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is serving as a new home for those who had to flee the destruction from these powerful storms. I am proud to join the Governor in our ongoing effort to ensure that these displaced Americans continue to have the security of having a home."

State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "At Governor Cuomo's direction, the New York State Department of Labor stands ready to assist those who have suffered through the devastation of last year's hurricanes. This additional funding will allow us to expand our efforts to connect our new neighbors to the employment they require to fully realize the opportunities out state has to offer."

For additional information, the OTDA case management program and DOL job training and placement services, email [email protected] or call 1-800-342-3009 for assistance in both English and Spanish.

Individuals who may lose federal rental assistance when the FEMA TSA program ends are encouraged to call or visit their local department of social services to help them meet their immediate housing needs. These evacuees will have access to the range of support services available to all low-income New York residents to help meet basic needs, including housing and food.

Earlier this month, the Governor announced that the SUNY Board of Trustees and CUNY Board of Trustees would be extending in-state tuition for students displaced by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The extension of the authorization will allow students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to attend stated-operated colleges for the 2018-2019 academic year at a lower cost to ease the burden as their families recover from the devastation following these natural disasters. In the spring 2018 semester, approximately fifty displaces students took advantage of the in-state tuition rate at SUNY colleges and 200 displaced students at CUNY colleges.

New York's Efforts in Puerto Rico

Since Hurricane Maria's landfall in September 2017, Governor Cuomo has traveled to Puerto Rico four times and has continuously directed critical resources to communities in need. In the immediate aftermath, New York established the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort, ultimately distributing at least 4,400 pallets of supplies collected from 13 donations sites across the state. New York State also deployed more than 1,000 personnel, including hundreds of utility workers and power experts to help with power restoration and grid stabilization.

This month, the Governor announced the first deployment of volunteers for the summer-long NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative. Over the course of the summer, approximately 500 CUNY and SUNY student volunteers and dozens of skilled labor volunteers will work with the non-profit rebuilding organizations All Hands and Hearts, HEART 9/11, and NECHAMA to clean, restore, and rebuild homes. Students will deploy for 2-weeks, complete an intensive applied learning curriculum, and earn college credits. UNICEF USA has committed funds to support this effort.

In response to the recently released Harvard School of Public Health's analysis estimating that the death toll of Hurricane Maria could be 70 times higher than the current official estimate, Governor Cuomo joined Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez's demand for a commission to immediately investigate the federal response, death toll and any negligence or failure to appropriately respond, as well as disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

Governor Cuomo and the New York Congressional Delegation continue to advocate for Puerto Rico to get the federal aid they need and deserve. In December, Governors Cuomo and Rosselló, and members of the New York Congressional Delegation released a Build Back Better Assessment Report that called for a $94.4 billion federal aid package to help Puerto Rico build back stronger. The plan identified specific sectors needing investments, including housing, power grid and resiliency, agriculture and others. Together with $487 million for public safety and first response and $9 billion for long-term recovery management, the total funding need is $94.4 billion.

For more information about the recovery and relief efforts underway in Puerto Rico, and to learn how you can assist, please visit the Governor's Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands webpage.


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