“And FEMA didn’t let anybody know [about the extension] until after checkout — FEMA waited until the eleventh hour, and then said it’s extended,” she said, adding that a number of residents had already left the hotel and that rooms had already been booked. “The [Allegria] has been really, really nice about everything, and even the FEMA people are nice — they just don’t give you the right information. Something of this magnitude should have been given more attention in terms of providing information and logistics. People have nowhere to go, everyone was upset and it’s very stressful.”
Fortunately, Mahoney said that she will be able to stay at the hotel for two more weeks, but said that she is not sure where she will go if the deadline is not extended again.
“The hotel has gone above and beyond when it came to extending [rooms] for people,” she said. “I would like to stay in this room for four more weeks because my apartment will be ready by then.”
The hotel’s general manager did not return a call for comment on Friday.
“If there had not been an extension, they would have had to check out on Sunday,” Perez said. “Hotels have the option of participating in the program, but if they say, ‘we need these rooms,’ we can’t really do anything about it. They’ll just have to be relocated to another hotel.”
FEMA offering assistance
Perez said that funding through the Temporary Sheltering Assistance program is separate from the grants of up to $31,900 that FEMA is providing to eligible residents to make home repairs or for 18-months of rental housing. He also said that representatives are doing all they can to provide assistance to those staying in hotels.
“For those living in hotels, they should continue to be in contact with FEMA to see what their continuing issues are and what they’re doing to find a more permanent solution to their housing needs,” Perez said. “We are having our representatives contact and visit some of these folks at the hotels to see what the issues are and see what else we can do for them.”
In two weeks, the state may request another extension, at which point FEMA could decide whether it will continue the program, Perez said.
“The hotel program is a temporary program, so eventually it will end,” he said. “If [residents] are still eligible, we may be able to help them with [temporary] rental assistance, find them an apartment and maybe we can give them some grant money.”
To be eligible for TSA, survivors must first apply for federal assistance through FEMA by:
· Registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov;
· Registering via smartphone or tablet by using the FEMA app or going to m.fema.gov; or
· Registering by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) (TTY 800-462-7585). For 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.