by: Daralene Jones Updated:
OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - FEMA will offer temporary housing at Central Florida motels and hotels, however, 9 Investigates reporter Daralene Jones uncovered some of the properties on the FEMA list don’t even have availability, and some are home to registered sex offenders.
Another major concern about the available properties is that a dozen motels/hotels are in the Kissimmee area, along U.S. 192, where the local homeless population is already taking up space because of the growing transient population and a shortage of affordable housing.
One woman, who is living at one of the 54 properties listed by FEMA, said she’s at an extended stay in Kissimmee because she lost everything during Hurricane Irma.
“FEMA was the only ones that came through and said, ‘you know what, we're going to help you.’ But they don't say what happens next,” the woman who didn’t want to be identified told Jones.
Eyewitness News also showed the housing list to Reverend Mary Downey, founder of the Community Hope Center, a one-stop transitional housing operation in Osceola County.
“We already have an epidemic of families who are stuck in our hotels and motels along the corridor. So my concern is we are going to see people placed in hotels and get stuck there as well,” Downey told Jones.
Peter Sessum told 9 Investigates that the transitional housing was just added as an option this week because the governor of Puerto Rico sounded the alarm about the need.
9 Investigates was told it’s up to hotels and motels to sign voluntarily sign up and the government can’t force the hotels. Once an evacuee receives a voucher, the hotel is reimbursed directly at a government rate.
“I haven't had a lot of information; going to be at least for the next month,” Sessum said.
Some of hotels don't even have availability and are nothing more than distressed extended stays, 9 Investigates learned. 9 Investigates also found 13 sex offenders are living at properties on the list.
“The individual business has to enroll in the program. We do encourage survivors to do their due diligence,” Sessum said when asked about the sex offenders.
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