Opening arms for the displaced.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James announced a plan to welcome displaced residents from Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands on Oct. 12, in a show of support for affected victims seeking new housing in the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria. The plan is aimed at facilitating the recovery and rebuilding process for thousands of families on both islands, who are expected to connect with communities and their relatives who already call this city home, she said.
“As a city with a significant number of Puerto Ricans and West Indians, we must anticipate an influx and arrival of these displaced Americans and ensure that we are adequately prepared to address their pressing needs,” said James. “Throughout our history, New York City has always stood as a beacon of hope and a place of refuge for those fleeing hardship and disaster.”
So far, thousands have already entered the states seeking to flee the crisis occurring in Puerto Rico, and depending on aid efforts, more and more residents will be turning to the states as refuge, she added.
“It is my understanding that as of today, that 20,000 individuals from Puerto Rico have arrived in Florida, so make no mistake this is a full-scale humanitarian crisis and I believe it is the worst in recent memory,” said James.
With New York home to the country’s largest Puerto Rican population outside of the territory, James said part of the initiative will be to assist the displaced here in the city with housing, medical, and educational opportunities, which will be supported by the city’s existing budget. For some New Yorkers, the initiative is a relief in regards to their concern about relatives.
“I’m hoping that people could live mainly and that’s the bottom line,” said Carlos Martinez, a leader with Make the Road New York, with close family in Puerto Rico.
Martinez, who has a siblings, children, and grandchildren still in Puerto Rico, praised James for launching the plan and said his family may come to the city should relief efforts do not go as planned. But he was concerned about his stepfather who he said may not be able to see a doctor for a while.
“He’s going through issues with his health and his medicine is lacking at the hospital, and he will not be able to see a doctor till next year if his condition deteriorates,” he said.