A federal judge ruled Tuesday to extend a Federal Emergency Management Agency program providing temporary housing to Puerto Ricans lacking shelter in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Following a Monday hearing by phone, United States District Judge Timothy Hillman granted a 20-day extension to the program, which currently houses some 1,700 people in motels and hotels on the mainland U.S. in New York, Massachusetts, and other states. A lack of affordable housing has left many families reliant on this temporary shelter nine months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
FEMA attempted to halt the program over the weekend, but the civil rights group LatinoJustice PRLDEF took the agency to court. The group argued that FEMA couldn't leave Puerto Rican families without a program to transition into long-term housing—such as the Disaster Housing Assistance Program, which was provided for survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. On Saturday, U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin temporarily blocked FEMA from ending the program, pending Monday's hearing.
On July 23rd, Judge Hillman is expected to make a final ruling on whether or not the program should be further extended.