Housing scarce for Puerto Ricans coming to Central Florida

By: Lauren Seabrook

Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The CEO of United Way told Eyewitness News there is nowhere to house people leaving Puerto Rico for Central Florida after Hurricane Maria.

"We are sitting on a precipice of a human disaster,” said Jeff Hayward, CEO, Heart of Florida United Way.

Hotels are really the only option for those with nowhere to live, and the United Way admits there are not enough hotels, so many will end up on the streets.

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At least 2,000 Puerto Ricans are coming to Central Florida every day since the hurricane, according to the United Way.

Hayward told Channel 9’s Lauren Seabrook that if the state and FEMA don’t step in to help, there could be a major humanitarian crisis.

Monika Cayas told Eyewitness News she had to fly to Orlando alone because her family can’t arrive until December.

"There's nothing. And it was very sad for me and my family just to get away to go here,” Cayas said.

Photos: WFTV visits Puerto Rico

Sergio Gonzales is in a similar situation.

"He's planning to start from scratch. Looking for a job, looking for a place to live, so he doesn't have any plans to go back to the island,” translated from Spanish from a witness for Gonzales.

Central Florida has many job openings, but Hayward told Eyewitness News that it has nowhere to house people like Sergio. Even before the hurricane hit Puerto Rico, Central Florida was already short 7,500 homes, Hayward said.

Hayward said of the potentially 100,000 Puerto Ricans coming to Central Florida, at least 20 percent need a place to live.

"I don't want to point fingers, but the state needs and the federal government needs to come up with a short-term solution, and emergency solution, whether that's FEMA trailers or some shelter,” Hayward said.

However, the decision to bring in FEMA trailers is up to the state and FEMA.

Watch United Way interview below:

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