NewsLocal NewsCleveland Metro


Hurricane Maria victims struggle to find housing in Cleveland

Posted at 6:50 PM, Nov 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-09 18:50:14-05

Plans are in the works to fly 3,000 Puerto Ricans off their storm-ravaged island. 

It's just the latest influx of hurricane victims to arrive in the U.S.

Cleveland has welcomed dozens of people looking for a fresh start, but there have been a few bumps in the road to relocation.

Many of the Puerto Ricans coming to Cleveland are not coming alone. Families are now trying to start a new life here, but there are few options to call home. So, for now, many are living in hotels or in the basement of a relative’s home.

"What we need is apartments," said Ramonita Vargas of the Spanish American Committee.

In Cleveland, there just aren't enough for Hurricane Maria survivors.

"It's a crisis right now," said Vargas.

The Spanish American Committee is struggling to find permanent housing for 50 individuals and families who fled the island.

"Now more people are starting to see that there's an issue with this,” said Vargas.

FEMA is covering Yahaira Vega's two week stay at a Brooklyn hotel.

"It's really hard to find housing," said Vega.

The hurricane survivor isn't sure what will happen when that money runs out.

"You've got to have a plan, and even though you say you got it, you have to show it that you have it," said Vega.

Vargas tells News 5 their initial plan was to turn to CMHA.

"We were told it was going to be immediate help," said Vargas.

But those in need of housing are learning that's not the case.

"They were told they still have to wait three months, maybe six months, some might have to wait a year. Where are they going to stay all this time," asked Vargas.

Right now, other social service agencies are stepping up to help.

“We've heard from a lot of organizations, but have not heard once from the City of Cleveland," said Vargas.

A spokesperson for the mayor tells News 5 the city has been in contact with the Spanish American Committee since the end of September to assist and support victims.

He went on to say the city is currently working to collect and distribute much needed winter clothing.

"I would think that they would show more effort in welcoming these people that are coming here," said Vargas.

The Spanish American Committee expects to see 100 more individuals and families arrive in Cleveland by the end of the year.