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Housing issues affect everyone in Connecticut, from those who are searching for a safe place to live, to those who may find it increasingly difficult to afford a place they already call home.WNPR is covering Connecticut's housing and homelessness issues in a series that examines how residents are handling the challenges they face. We look at the trends that matter most right now, and tell stories that help bring the issues to light.

Housing Dollars For Puerto Rican Evacuees Could Go Away If Unclaimed

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Ryan Caron King
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Connecticut Public Radio
Hurricane evacuees Israel Rivera (center) and Pedro Bermudez (right) load a moving truck in March of 2018 with furniture that residents of Avon and West Hartford donated for families who relocated to Connecticut from Puerto Rico.

Hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico have less than three months to get help in a key area of need.

Survivors could claim up to $5,000 in housing assistance dollars from the state of Connecticut.

But, money that’s unspent will revert to the state on July 1.

Richard Cho, the executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, said that nine months into the program, roughly half of the $500,000 in funding is still unclaimed.

“If there is still need out there and our understanding is that there is quite a bit of families out there that are still struggling with housing-related expenses, we want to be able to provide that assistance as much as possible rather than have to just turn any of that money back,” Cho said.

The agency is working with the state to get the funds out to survivors.

“[We’re] anxious to get the word out and want to see if families were displaced from Hurricane Maria from Puerto Rico have come to Connecticut and are still struggling with housing instability or housing-related costs, there are funds available to be able to assist them,” Cho said.

If a person can prove that he or she is an evacuee, then that person can begin his or her claim by calling 211. But, Cho said that there’s been an issue with connecting survivors to the service.

He believes that’s why there’s still money on the table.

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