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State to allocate $11M to help Hurricane Maria survivors find jobs, housing

Housing is a significant concern for Maria survivors, with Saturday marking the end of temporary housing assistance from FEMA.

Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during an announcement and

Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during an announcement and bill signing at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday that he is directing about $10 million to state Labor Department officials so they can give job training and placement to Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria.

Cuomo, a Democrat who is seeking a third term in November, also announced that $1 million will go to New York’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The money will help connect the displaced with affordable housing.

“By providing access to critical services, individuals and families can re-establish themselves and begin the process of putting their lives back together,” the office’s commissioner, Samuel Roberts, said in a statement.

Maria was a Category 4 hurricane that hit Puerto Rico last September and destroyed much of the island’s power grid. Federal officials estimated 64 people died during Maria, but a Harvard University study found that more than 4,600 people died from the hurricane and its aftermath. The hurricane also displaced thousands of families, many of whom fled to Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida and New York.

Cuomo said in a statement Saturday that New York has supported Puerto Rico relief efforts “from day one.”

New York has sent 4,400 pallets of supplies to the island and more than 1,000 people to help restore power, Cuomo officials said. Another 500 SUNY and CUNY students will spend this summer in Puerto Rico helping to rebuild homes, Cuomo’s office said.

The $1 million will be shared among BronxWorks Inc., CAMBA of Brooklyn, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, and RiseBoro Community Partnership. Those organizations will help the displaced in several ways, including finding housing, completing rental applications, and buying furniture.

Housing is a significant concern for Maria survivors, with Saturday marking the end of temporary housing assistance from FEMA. The agency has spent $432 million paying the hotel costs of about 1,800 survivors of Maria, as well as hurricanes Irma and Harvey, who have lived in hotels on Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland.

Ruthanne Visnauskas of the New York State Homes and Community Renewal commission said the state “is serving as a new home for those who had to flee the destruction from” Maria.

The Labor Department’s $10 million comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Cuomo officials said Saturday, with $1 million of it already available. Roberta Reardon, New York’s Labor Department commissioner, said the agency is ready to help Maria survivors.

“This additional funding will allow us to expand our efforts to connect our new neighbors to the employment they require to fully realize the opportunities the state has to offer,” Reardon said.

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