Timely, critical personalized legal assistance to 30 poor families in southwest Puerto Rico whose homes were damaged, destroyed or seriously compromised by the 3-month long spate of earthquakes that began December 28 and continues to this day, and community education on the housing-related rights of earthquake victims will be provided by this project. The project will ensure that affected individuals and families can access FEMA recovery financial aid and secure housing.
A 5.4 earthquake struck southwest Puerto Rico Dec. 28, 2019. Tremors continued to rattle the area when a magnitude 6.4 quake struck on Jan. 7, 2020. The earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks (43 "significant" earthquakes hit the area from February 21 to 29). More than 8,000 homes have been destroyed, seriously damaged or at risk of collapse as seismic activity continues unabated. Without legal help hundreds of families might not secure FEMA housing-related assistance and affirm their rights.
Legal assistance can be essential in defending the rights of families who have suffered losses and are entitled to FEMA housing-related assistance and other sources of aid. The SLPR project will provide widespread community education in the municipalities affected and emergency legal services and guidance, free of charge over a 2-month period, to 30 families who suffered losses, many of whom have left the area,taken refuge in shelters or are sleeping outside for fear of their homes collapsing.
As a result of the project, hundreds of residents of the 25 affected municipalities will learn about their housing rights and support opportunities. Thirty families will be more likely to secure FEMA assistance to which they are entitled, such as grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other FEMA programs to help individuals recover from the effects of the disaster.