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Contact: Jennifer Farmer, 202-306.0136, jfarmer@faithinaction.org

WED. JUNE 6 – More than 100 Displaced Children and Families from Puerto Rico to Meet Lawmakers in Washington, Call for Implementation of Housing Assistance

Washington – On Wednesday, June 6, leaders with Faith in Action, formerly PICO National Network, and their Massachusetts federation, Pioneer Valley Project will accompany more than 100 individuals and families who were displaced after Hurricane Maria as they meet with elected officials on Capitol Hill. The group will urge legislators to force FEMA to activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), which would provide longer-term housing for low-income families following natural disasters.

“We are literally terrified of what will happen after the June 30 deadline we’ve been giving to leave our hotels,” said Rosah Clase an organizer with Pioneer Valley Project in Springfield, MA. “We are asking for reasonable assistance, something anyone in our shoes would want. After losing our homes, our loved ones and our possessions, we simply want more time to adjust and more assistance with longer term housing.”

There is a precedent for activating DHAP. It was used following Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and Rita and it must be implemented now for evacuees in Massachusetts and other states who received a 30-day notice that they must leave the hotels they’ve been staying by June 30.

“Instead of receiving help, the government is urging us to return to Puerto Rico even though the island is inhabitable. Unable to return to Puerto Rico, the 30-day notice literally means many of us will be homeless,” Clase continued. “We are going to Washington, D.C. to ask for help.”

The Capitol Hill meetings come just after revelations that the death toll following Hurricane Maria was estimated at 4,600, a figure that even the researchers who performed the study say is conservative. Now, because of U.S. government inaction, thousands of hurricane survivors are on the verge of becoming homeless.

“We are not shocked that the death toll is so high in following the hurricanes,” said Denise Collazo, chief of staff for Faith in Action. “We saw the lack of compassion and the government’s slothfulness following the storms, and we warned that people were in trouble. It is time to force FEMA to utilize all resources at it’s disposal to bring relief to people who have already lost so much.”

Rosah Clase and the families coming to Washington to meet with lawmakers will gather at the United Methodist Building at 100 Maryland Ave, NE in Washington at 2:30 p.m. Please contact Jennifer Farmer at 202.306.0136 to arrange a time to speak with them.

WHO:              Faith in Action and Pioneer Valley Project

                        Displaced children and families who lost their homes following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

WHAT:            Hill visits with families from Puerto Rico

WHERE:          United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave NE, Washington, DC

WHEN:            Wednesday June 6, 2018 at 2:30 p.m. EST

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Faith in Action, formerly known as PICO National Network, is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. The nonpartisan organization works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 45 local and state federations.

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