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Press Releases

Families Still Searching For Housing On Eve of FEMA Deadline

Kara Watkins

ORLANDO, FL — In the 24 hours left the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Transitional Shelter Assistance Program is set to expire. The Abrazo Boricua coalition released the following statement condemning FEMA’s decision to terminate housing assistance as Abrazo Boricua works around the clock to find housing for approximately 43 families in the Central Florida region:

“Hurricane Maria survivors have had their lives turned upside down again, but this time it’s the federal government’s callous own doing. We condemn the Court’s order allowing FEMA to terminate transitional housing for thousands of Puerto Ricans still in need,” said Freddie Agrait of the Hispanic Federation.

“We are working against the clock to find homes for Orlando families who will be effectively left homeless as of this weekend.”

“Many of the Abrazo Boricua members have been meeting with families and assessing their needs to accommodate and provide them with a permanent housing solution. In addition, the Abrazo Boricua Coalition has been in talks with hotels in the city of Kissimmee to have families stay temporarily and buy time to find a longer term option. Throughout the Central Florida region, members are also vetting potential properties to ensure living conditions for the families fit their necessities as much as possible,” added Agrait.

“Tens of thousands of refugees arrived in Central Florida after Hurricane Maria, and are now working, attending school and being productive members of society. This is the last group of families, many of whom face challenges relating to health, age and other factors,” said Father Jose Rodriguez of the Episcopal Office of Latino Assistance.  

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Abrazo Boricua Asks Governor Rick Scott to Take Action Immediately and Help Puerto Rico Families Find Shelter Prior to June 30 Housing Deadline

Kara Watkins

ORLANDO, FL -- As the June 30th deadline for the FEMA Transitional Shelter Assistance Program approaches, Abrazo Boricua, a coalition of over 10 civic, service, and advocacy organizations in the Orlando area released the following statement:

“We are soon approaching the 10 month mark since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and forced families to leave their homes and flee to the mainland. Many of those families came to Central Florida seeking to rebuild their lives. A main component of that rebuilding process includes finding a home to live in, and currently, the FEMA Transitional Shelter Assistance Program -- which has helped house about 631 families nationwide and approximately 1720 individuals in Florida -- is set to expire this Saturday, June 30th, 2018.

“Currently, the State of Florida and local governments have neither approved nor allocated any funds to specifically address the hundreds of families fleeing Puerto Rico and making Florida their home. It is unconscionable that we have hard-working families and families caring for disabled and elderly members in critical need who have survived Hurricane Maria and remain living in hotels anxiously awaiting eviction because of Florida's low-wage economy and high rents. Governor Scott has the power to address this critical housing shortage and has failed our Puerto Rican evacuees and all Florida families currently on waiting lists for affordable housing.

“Abrazo Boricua is urging Governor Scott take executive action to help the families, including children, who will be left homeless and yet again left looking for a place to live after June 30’s FEMA shelter program deadline ends. The only resources these families have received have come from the federal government and it is past due that Florida elected officials, especially Governor Scott, step up and help provide the most necessary and essential resource of all: Housing.”

Orlando Organizations Launch Abrazo Boricua Coalition to Resettle and Empower Puerto Rican Families

Talbot Digital

APRIL 27, 2018

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Jose Aristimuno
(202) 469-2655, jaristimuno@now-strategies.com

Marcos Vilar

(813) 760-8786, marcos@vilarstrategies.com

Orlando Organizations Launch Abrazo Boricua Coalition to
Resettle and Empower Puerto Rican Families

Abrazo Boricua Brings Together Faith, Civic and Community Service Organizations to Serve Families

ORLANDO, FL — Yesterday, Abrazo Boricua, a coalition of over 10 civic and advocacy organizations in the Orlando area hosted a press conference to launch a new initiative aimed at helping Puerto Rican families who have fled the Island and are settling in the region. Together, coalition members pledged their combined resources to support and empower Puerto Ricans who have fled the island and are rebuilding their lives in Orlando.

“The Latino community must come together in order to ensure that Puerto Rican families can successfully transition into the Orlando area. With over 200,000 Puerto Ricans having arrived in Florida since Hurricane Maria, we must all come together and ensure our American brothers and sisters have the tools they need in the Orlando area,” said Betsy Franceschini, Senior State Director Florida Southeast, Hispanic Federation.

“As a community, we have a duty to alleviate uncertainty and stress caused by this transition, reduce barriers to employment, increase job retention and employer satisfaction, and promote economic stability and prosperity in our community. We look forward to providing Puerto Rican families the springboard they need for economic stability in the area,” said Marcos Vilar, Campaign Director, Abrazo Boricua.

This weekend, Abrazo Boricua will launch a series of “Welcome Workshops” (Talleres de Bienvenida) at Florida Technical College. You may find more information on the workshops here.

“Part of our task is to ensure we are building people power. The task at hand is massive and we all need to work together in order to make a difference in this kind of effort. Whether it is organizing our community, working on leadership development, or civic engagement —  we are all working together towards a common goal. Through our collaborative efforts, Abrazo Boricua will ensure that the Puerto Rican community in Orlando is on equal footing,” said Michelle Suarez, Community Organizer, Organize Florida.

“We are thrilled to be a part of Abrazo Boricua and unify efforts to assist the Puerto Rican community. Our work will entail a series of ‘Welcome Workshops’ to guide our American brothers and sisters through their transition into Central Florida,” said Nancy Rosado, Vice President, SOS by Urbander.

“Faith in Florida stands in solidarity with the People of Puerto Rico , the community of faith responds to our call as people of conscience and welcomes the opportunity to be the Faith component in this Abrazo Boricua,” stated Maria Revelles, Director of Organizing, Faith in Florida.

 

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Abrazo Boricua is a coalition of Orlando-based advocacy, civil rights, faith, and civic engagement organizations that have come together to assist displaced Puerto Rican families as they seek to rebuild their lives and become active members of the community.  The coalition will focus its collaborative resources to assist with housing, workforce preparation, legal assistance, medical and mental health referrals, and civic engagement. It is through our combined effort that we will equip our fellow Americans from Puerto Rico with the tools they need to succeed and empower them with the knowledge to thrive.  

 

Abrazo Boricua Opens its Arms to Puerto Rican Families Settling in Orlando

Talbot Digital

APRIL 25, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Jose Aristimuno (202) 469-2655, jaristimuno@nowstrategies.com
Marcos Vilar (813) 760-8786, marcos@vilarstrategies.com

MEDIA ADVISORY

Abrazo Boricua Opens its Arms to Puerto Rican Families Settling in Orlando
Newly Formed Coalition Will Welcome Displaced Puerto Ricans With Support, Guidance, and Access to Opportunities

ORLANDO, FL — On Thursday, April 26th, Abrazo Boricua, a coalition of over 10 civic and advocacy organizations in the Orlando area, will host a press conference to launch a new initiative aimed at helping the thousands of displaced Puerto Rican families who are resettling in the Orlando region in an effort to rebuild their lives. The coalition of community service organizations, faith-based nonprofits and civic engagement organizations have been working independently for the past several months to meet the needs of those families fleeing the Island. Together they will launch Abrazo Boricua, laying out plans to more aggressively assist Puerto Rican families with restarting their lives and becoming active members of the community. In collaboration, the coalition will assist new arrivals with housing, workforce preparation, legal assistance, medical and mental health referrals, and civic engagement.

EVENT DETAILS:

WHAT:
Press Conference: Abrazo Boricua Opens its Arms to Displaced Puerto Rican Families Resettling in Orlando

WHEN:
Thursday, April 26th, 2018 @ 10:30 a.m. EST

WHERE:
Hispanic Federation
6900 S Orange Blossom Trail #200
Orlando, FL 32809

WHO:
Marcos Vilar, Abrazo Boricua, Campaign Director
Betsy Franceschini, Hispanic Federation
David Ayala, LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Jared Nordlund, UnidosUS
Michelle Suarez, Organize Florida
Maria Revelles, Faith in Florida

PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS:
Calvario City Church of Orlando
Episcopal Office of Latino Assistance
Hispanic Federation
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Mi Familia Vota Education Fund
Organize Florida
Faith in Florida
SOS by Urbander
State Voices
UnidosUS
Vamos4PR
Latino Leadership

###

Abrazo Boricua is a coalition of Orlando-based advocacy, civil rights, faith, and civic engagement organizations that have come together to assist displaced Puerto Rican families as they seek to rebuild their lives and become active members of the community.  The coalition will focus its collaborative resources to assist with housing, workforce preparation, legal assistance, medical and mental health referrals, and civic engagement. It is through our combined effort that we will equip our fellow Americans from Puerto Rico with the tools they need to succeed and empower them with the knowledge to thrive.