FEMA ends hotel stay vouchers for Hurricane Irma survivors

Posted at 11:17 PM, Mar 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-12 02:50:00-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- As many people impacted by Hurricane Irma still struggle to find an affordable place to live. FEMA is not going to hand out vouchers for hotel stays any more starting March 10, 2018.

It's been a hard few months for Christina Smith and her Family. Hotels in the Bay area have been their home after Hurricane Irma destroyed theirs. The Federal Program has picked up the bill for 27,300 people in the state. 26,000 have found long-term housing.

"Thank God for FEMA," said Smith, who is thankful for what they've done so far. But says there is still so much to be done. "We got to replace everything, we have to replace clothing - I mean I lost pictures of our marriage, our children being born."

All of that has taken a back seat. Her priority is finding a long-term, stable place to live now that FEMA is no longer paying.

The program has dished out $110 million so far. But, Smith says she had a tough time finding a landlord willing to take them in. She’s the only one brining in a paycheck while her husband recovers from surgery.

"I've saved so much for the rent," she said. "I have tried to hold on to every little penny to give to a renter, these hotels are no place for children. It's hard to live in a hotel with kids."

That money will be spent on nightly hotel costs until they find a place.

And soon, Walkiria Dedios, who lost her home in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria will be in the same situation when funding ends for those survivors. We haven't seen an exact date, but are in the process of asking FEMA when that will happen.

She hasn't been able to work, because she says it's a full time job taking care of her 3 kids in an unfamiliar place.

"It is an overwhelming situation because I cannot tell the kids. I have to laugh, making them know that everything is going to be fine but sometimes the frustrations get on me," said Dedios.

FEMA says if you still need help, call 2-1-1 or visit the website