On the Heels of Fifth Trip to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria, Initiative Invests $2 Million to Connect Puerto Rican Families to Employment, Housing and Healthcare Services

Over 11,000 Displaced Puerto Ricans Living in New York


Latest State Investment Follows FEMA Report that Agency was Unprepared for Hurricane Maria and Negligent in Assistance to Puerto Rico


Photos and Video from Governor Cuomo’s Fifth Trip to Puerto Rico Available Here and Here  


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $2 million to support the more than 11,000 displaced Hurricane Maria victims living in New York. The Governor made the announcement after returning from his fifth trip to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit last August. The initial investment of $2 million will go to partnering organizations who connect vulnerable Puerto Ricans to needed services such as employment, housing, benefits counseling and health care. This investment is on top of the Governor’s previous commitment of up to $11 million dollars in housing and workforce funding for displaced Puerto Ricans, and follows the release of a report by FEMA showing that the federal government was woefully unprepared for Hurricane Maria and incapable of providing the assistance Puerto Rico needed in the wake of the disaster. 


“Since day one, New York stood with our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico, welcoming displaced families with open arms and will continue to do whatever it takes to help our fellow Americans get back on their feet,” Governor Cuomo said. “Puerto Rico’s plight was not caused by an act of God but by the federal government’s failures. As New York acts, it’s far past time that the federal government took responsibility for the consequences of its actions and begin to rectify the grave injustice committed against the people of Puerto Rico.”


The $2 million initial investment will fund the program statewide with a focus on New York City, the greater Rochester area, and the Capital District, where the majority of the displaced families reside. The State will provide funding to Catholic Charities, NY Disaster Interfaith Services, Urban Health Plan, Union Community Health Center, and Diaspora for Puerto Rico in New York City; and in Rochester the Ibero-American Action League and Centro-Civico of Amsterdam. These nonprofits began working to help these families immediately following Hurricane Maria and this funding will enable these organizations to expand their work with households who evacuated Puerto Rico as a result of the disaster, needs assessments and case management services. 


The emphasis of the program will be placed on connecting vulnerable families to needed services such as employment, housing, benefits counseling and health care including Health Home Care Managers and community-based services. Additionally, this program will provide small, cash grants to families to meet needs that can’t otherwise be met by existing programs and services. Organizations from across sectors will be brought together to assist these households and families with meeting their needs. Case management of this type was successfully provided to families in the wake of Super Storm Sandy and was vital in helping families rebuild their lives.


“Through investments, partnerships and volunteer efforts, we’re helping our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico rebuild and recover, and also helping those who are living in New York,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “This funding will assist families to ensure they have access to the services they need after being displaced by Hurricane Maria. While the federal government was unprepared for the hurricane and failed to assist after the disaster, we’re proud to secure new housing and workplace opportunities for our brothers and sisters who are now great citizens of New York State.”


Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of NY, said, “I was very pleased to join Governor Cuomo’s recent delegation to Puerto Rico to demonstrate the ongoing commitment of New Yorkers to stand with our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico in their ongoing recovery from last year’s devastating hurricanes. Catholic Charities is committed to long term efforts to help with recovery and also to provide needed services to thousands of evacuees from Puerto Rico now living in New York. Partnering with government, other nonprofits, labor, educational institutions, the private sector and others is critical for the successful rebuilding of this important part of the United States.”


Hilda Escher, President and CEO, Ibero-American Action League, said, “Navigating healthcare, finding employment, and securing housing is difficult as it is, let alone trying to manage these necessities in a new city hundreds of miles from home. Unfortunately for the people of Puerto Rico, this has become a difficult reality for many. From day one, Governor Cuomo has pledged to help the island rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and today’s announcement is just one in a long list of ways he has committed to this promise. I commend the Governor for his continued support of Puerto Rico and supporting our work to help.”


Peter B. Gudaitis, M.Div., Executive Director, New York Disaster Interfaith Services & Chair, New York State VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), said, “Proudly, New York State has long been home to the Puerto Rican diaspora. When Hurricane Maria devastated the island last October, many thousands fled to New York City, Rochester, and other communities, seeking our help – and, under the Governor’s leadership, aid and experienced recovery workers from New York continue to arrive on the island to rebuild and restore. For the past ten months, NYDIS and our disaster human services partners have been rebuilding evacuees lives here as well. As we enter the long-term recovery phase, NYDIS is committed to providing assistance and resources to insure all evacuees achieve sustainable recovery, whether resettled in New York or back in Puerto Rico. Today, we proudly stand with Governor Cuomo to support this new recovery initiative, and to work with him to bring healing, help, and hope to our fellow Americans in their time of crisis.”


Paloma Hernandez, President and CEO, Urban Health Plan, said, “We are happy to provide any assistance needed as displaced Puerto Ricans attempt to rebuild their lives in New York after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. While the federal government has neglected and ignored the suffering that Puerto Ricans have faced since the Hurricane, Governor Cuomo and New York have stepped up to the plate and provided the necessary support to those in need. We are thankful for the Governor’s leadership, and look forward to helping any displaced Puerto Ricans in New York.”


Douglas L. York, Ph.D., CEO, Union Community Health Center, said, “The lives of so many Puerto Ricans were torn apart in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. As many displaced Puerto Ricans attempt to pick up the pieces in New York, Union Community Health Center is committed to providing assistance and helping in any way possible. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has opened their arms to displaced Puerto Ricans as they rebuild their lives. We are proud to work with the Governor on this mission.”


Víctor R. Martínez, Chair & Founder, Diaspora for Puerto Rico, Inc., said, “Under the Governor’s leadership, New York has helped build morale, turn lives around, and provide resources both here in the Empire State and in Puerto Rico. This latest effort leverages New York’s expertise to make it easier for our fellow citizens forced to leave Puerto Rico in the wake of the natural disaster, to acclimate here in our state. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for caring about our people and supporting services and organizations that are culturally competent and cognizant of the challenges and struggles that many of the families and individuals have experienced. I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to continue delivering a better tomorrow for our brothers and sisters.”


Ladan Alomar, Executive Director, Centro-Civico of Amsterdam, said, “I am grateful for the leadership we have in New York and the Governor’s vision to help our neighbors in need as they build back Puerto Rico stronger than ever before. As part of that comprehensive effort, we must not forget the families who fled the hurricane last year and came to New York to start new. I applaud the state’s investment in New York’s Puerto Rican community and for recognizing the need to help our fellow American citizens establish a home once again. We look forward to working with the state to ensure these families receive the assistance they need.”


Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, Co-Chair, New York Stands with Puerto Rico Rebuilding and Reconstructing Committee, said, “This week’s trip to Puerto Rico sent a clear message to the Puerto Rican community that New York stands with you, we support you, and we will continue to support you.  From SUNY and CUNY students, to state agencies, to New York elected officials, to skilled labor volunteers, to non-profits, New Yorkers are stepping up to the plate to aid and support Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts. From the first flight down to Puerto Rico to the displaced families making new homes in the Empire State, Governor Cuomo is there every step of the way for everyone who needs our help, and I am deeply grateful to him for his leadership.”


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said, “Many have already forgotten about Hurricane Maria and the people still suffering in Puerto Rico and the displaced people far away from home, but Governor Cuomo has not forgotten. I applaud the Governor for filling the void and providing the assistance that Washington has failed to deliver to the men and women of Puerto Rico. I was proud to join the Governor on his fifth trip to the island since Maria—as a shining example of New York’s commitment to Puerto Rico, and I applaud this investment to help the Puerto Rican community rebuild in New York.”


Senator Martin Dilan said, “This week I proudly went to Puerto Rico with Governor Cuomo. There is still so much devastation, so much to be done in Puerto Rico, and it is clear that the federal government has all but forgotten our brothers and sisters on the island. Governor Cuomo and the entire New York delegation have continuously gone above and beyond, and have made it clear that they will continue to aid the Puerto Rican community for as long as we need, and I am proud to see this effort to help displaced Puerto Ricans as the latest step in that aid.”


Senator Gustavo Rivera said, “In the wake of the abhorrent and negligent recovery response from our federal government, I was proud to travel with Governor Cuomo on his fifth trip since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico to stand in solidarity with my sisters and brothers on the island, and to help the NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative. This laudable effort will continue to provide much-needed resources to Puerto Ricans currently exiled in New York and I applaud the Governor for his leadership and dedication to this cause.”


Senator José Serrano said, “After Hurricane Maria, many Puerto Rican families were forced to flee to make new homes in New York. Just as Governor Cuomo has been a tireless advocate for the people in Puerto Rico, he is once again stepping up to help displaced families access the vital resources they need to find jobs, housing and to build better lives. Thank you Governor Cuomo for, once again, showing that New York will always stand by the Puerto Rican community.”


Senator Luis Sepúlveda said, “It is an absolute tragedy that thousands of Puerto Ricans have had to flee their homes and the communities they know and love in the wake of Hurricane Maria. What’s worse, is many of these folks may never be able return to the island again. The overwhelm that our brothers and sisters must feel as they start new lives in the state of New York is unimaginable, and I commend Governor Cuomo for meeting this great need and providing the resources, services, and assistance necessary to help our fellow Americans get back on their feet.”


Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “While Washington continues to turn its back on Puerto Rico, members of the Assembly Majority, and especially my colleagues in the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, are eager to support our fellow Americans as they continue to recover from the horrific aftermath of Hurricane Maria. We are committed to offering Puerto Ricans a place of refuge and ensuring their access to the resources and services they need during this long and difficult recovery process.”


Assemblymember Carmen Arroyo said, “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has sprung to the aid of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico as they work to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. With this latest initiative, New York is providing support services to those displaced Puerto Ricans in New York as the work to acclimate to a new home. As the federal government neglects their responsibility and treats all in Puerto Rico as second class citizens, New York has taken action. I am proud to work with a Governor who has truly stepped up to the plate to help American citizens in need.”


Assemblymember Maritza Davila said, “The federal government’s despicable response to Hurricane Maria has left Puerto Rico still struggling to rebuild. While Washington ignores grappling American citizens, Governor Cuomo has made New York a consistent and incredible source of support for Puerto Rico. I commend the Governor for his leadership, and look forward to helping our displaced Puerto Rican brothers and sisters make new homes in New York.”


Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa said, “We must do everything we can to help our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters both on the island and in New York. On the heels of our trip down to help the rebuilding effort, the Governor is once again stepping up to help the relief effort, this time with support for displaced Puerto Ricans in New York. This will help them find employment, housing and make new lives for themselves here. It is a compassionate and critically important program that will make New Yorkers proud.”


Assemblymember Erik Dilan said, “Under the Governor’s leadership, New York is once again setting an example for Washington. As the Trump Administration continues to give the cold shoulder to our fellow American citizens, we are capitalizing on the generosity and love New Yorkers have to offer. I thank the providers and organizations who have stepped up to help implement this program and look forward to welcoming our brothers and sisters into our communities with open arms.”


Assemblymember Victor Pichardo said, “Our brothers and sisters who left Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria deserve the opportunity to truly join our New York Community.  As the federal government dances around their obligation to help our fellow citizens, Governor Cuomo is making services available to help these families cope and make it easier to establish a new home in New York State.”


Assemblymember Phil Ramos said, “It is no secret that the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria was absolutely shameful. If it were not for Governor Cuomo and his continued efforts toward rebuilding the island, countless Puerto Ricans would still be without power, homes, and other critical necessities. With these new resources announced today, Governor Cuomo is once again proving his unwavering commitment to the people of Puerto Rico, while demanding the federal government accept responsibility and finally step up and assist in a way that they should have all along.”


Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez said, “Since the day Hurricane Maria made landfall, Governor Cuomo has stood up to Washington and held them accountable for their lackluster response in Puerto Rico. Today, he continues to put on the pressure, pushing for federal resources to assist those displaced to New York. I join the Governor in his call for the federal government to take responsibility and I commend him for his tireless fight to provide the people of Puerto Rico everything they need to thrive post-Maria.”