The Transitional Shelter Assistance, or TSA voucher, provided by FEMA has allowed families to live in hotels temporarily. But that assistance is set to end on Jan. 13.
“I keep thinking about that date, Jan. 13, what’s going to happen after that date? I have no idea,” expressed Luis Villegas, manager of a Holiday Inn Express in Orlando, hosting dozens of families.
Many families are living at the Holiday Inn Express hotel on East Colonial Drive in Orlando. They are able to live in the hotel for a few weeks thanks to the Transitional Shelter Assistance program.
“There’s a lot of people that come with problems already, with health issues, their children,” Villegas said.
Many of these families lost everything during Hurricane Maria and saw themselves forced to leave Puerto Rico in search of help, like Luzbrenda Lebrón Alvarez and her family. She came with her husband, their oldest child with autism and their 8 year-old twins.
“I have nothing to offer them right now,” cried Lebrón. “Not a home, not parents with a job.”
Her home back in Puerto Rico got flooded after the roof flew off during the hurricane. Her tears constantly came out as she explained what they had to go through and what they still have to go through.
“We might end up on the streets,” she said.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Roselló asked FEMA to extend it for another 60 days to give families, like the one Villegas has helped, the opportunity to get back on their feet.
“They want to work, they want to find somewhere to live, they want direction,” said Villegas.
They also need extra time.
“They feel like this is their home now,” Villegas added.
While families wait to see if FEMA will extend their vouchers, more families continue to arrive from Puerto Rico.