FEMA says it will pay for lodging of displaced Puerto Ricans

by: Jason Kelly Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday announced new temporary housing options for Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria.

The agency said it will temporarily pay to house evacuees at hundreds of hotels and motels throughout the United States, including dozens in Central Florida.

Priority will be given to those who live in shelters because their homes are damaged.

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© 2017 Cox Media Group.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

Read: Temporary housing proposed for Puerto Rico evacuees in Central Florida

Those who are staying in the continental United States may stay at a participating hotel or motel for a period of time specified by FEMA and the government of Puerto Rico.

Almost 1,000 people have flown from Puerto Rico to Orlando daily during the six weeks since Hurricane Maria hit.

Orange County has seen 40,000 Puerto Ricans since October and 125,000 more are expected to arrive in November, county officials said.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said FEMA's plan is not an adequate solution for the size of the need.

"I have to believe as entrepreneurial as America is, that there are short-term, semi-permanent housing options available," Jacobs told Channel 9's Lauren Seabrook.

Jacobs said the only other option that's been pitched to her is setting up a mass shelter where thousands would live together. Jacobs said she does not want it to come down to that and said FEMA and the state need to come up with a better plan.

Valeria Camacho said she and her children have been living in a small Central Florida apartment with another family since evacuating the island because she can't find affordable housing.

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"We come here not because we want to," Camacho said. "It's because we need to."

Those interested in receiving assistance must register with FEMA to determine their eligibility. Click here or call 800-621-3362 to do so.

Click here for a list of participating hotels and motels, and click here to read more about other FEMA assistance.

Special section: Crisis in Puerto Rico

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