U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to extend their Temporary Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program past the standard two week extension to mid spring, when temperatures should be warmer. TSA benefits provide those displaced by Superstorm Sandy to stay in hotel rooms while they work to secure permanent shelter and repair their homes. FEMA recently extended the benefits another two weeks and as of now, expire on February 10th, 2013. Schumer today called for FEMA to extend these benefits through the spring so that families are not forced to seek out shelter during the cold winter months.
"These families have suffered enough because of Sandy and FEMA should extend shelter assistance so that displaced families are not left in the cold while they rebuild their homes," said Schumer. "I am relieved that FEMA extended the assistance through February 10th, however, this is just not enough. Extending the TSA program through the spring will ensure these families a warm place to stay during these cold winter months."
According to FEMA, the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program allows eligible survivors who are in shelters and cannot return to their homes due to damages caused by Hurricane Sandy to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing accommodations are available.
A full copy of Schumer's letter is below:
January 29, 2013
The Honorable Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20472
Dear Administrator Fugate:
I write today to call to your attention an important issue facing thousands of New Yorkers who are still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy (DR-4085).
As you know, in the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) activated its recovery program known as the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program. This program provides disaster survivors who have a continuing need for shelter, allowing them to stay in hotel or motel lodging for a limited period of time and have the cost of the room and taxes covered by FEMA. While there is still work to be done and residents continue to put the pieces of their lives back together, overall, the TSA program has been considered a success.
What is unclear, however, is why FEMA since its activation TSA approval periods have only been granted in approximately two week block periods. Such a short time frame creates an unnecessary emotional burden for individuals staying in hotels or motels who live in fear every two weeks of being evicted. Given the breadth and depth of Superstorm Sandy's damages and the amount of work disaster survivors have to complete before homes are considered safe and habitable, it simply common sense to extend TSA for a reasonable period of time longer than two weeks.
Therefore, in anticipation of New York State's request, I respectfully urge you to extend TSA through late Spring 2013. Doing so will provide New Yorkers with the peace of mind that comes from knowing they will be housed safely and securely while they rebuild their homes and their lives.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff at 202-224-6542 should you have any questions or need additional information.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator