Florida residents displaced by Hurricane Ian fear homelessness as FEMA Assistance nears end

The FEMA transitional housing assistance will run out at the end of the month. While thousands were helped, a few hundred still remain without a permanent home. 

Some people staying at the Holiday Inn in Celebration make up some of the 269 people still in need. For them, Hurricane Ian is still here. For over eight months they have been trying to find a permanent solution but for one reason or another, things haven’t worked out. 

"I’m scared stiff. I don’t know what I’m going to do on the 30th," said Joseph Ryan, CEO of MDR Disaster Relief and Outreach. 

Ryan has made it his life’s work to help people affected by disasters. He moved into a mobile home to travel wherever the disaster was. He’s helped rebuild thousands of homes, feed the needy and delivered resources. Although this time, he is the one in need. 

"We lost our RV. That was our form of transportation. That was our home. I don’t know," said Ryan. "After helping over 10,000 people over the lifespan of MDR where am I going to live?"

Ryan lost his RV to Hurricane Ian and can’t afford to get another. Some of the people he was helping after the storm are also stuck in limbo with him. Most of them are still waiting on critical reimbursements from FEMA.

"I’ve never seen the reimbursement. I’m still paying out-of-pocket to this day," said Renee. "When you’re paying $4000 plus out of pocket, how do you save? Then you have a child special needs."

Others aren’t making enough to afford the deposit on a new home leaving them scrambling. 

"Where am I going to go? My income right now is $1,200 so where am I going to go? How am I going to survive with my kids," said Quirna Martinez.

FEMA says they have helped 4,315 find suitable housing. Although, Martinez and the others at the Holiday Inn are some of the people still in transitional housing.

"There are people trying to help us, but is it going to happen in time? You got approved, but you have to wait. You got approved but you got to wait. When is my blessing going to come," said Martinez. 

If those blessings don’t come before their housing support runs out on June 29th, they will be out on the streets. 

"I don’t know what’s going to happen," said Ryan. "I don’t know where I’m going to sleep. I don’t know where I’m going to live. I don’t know what to do next."

Joe feels one of the biggest issues facing them right now is that there just aren’t enough resources to go around.  He feels there isn’t enough affordable housing or transitional shelters in the state to meet the demands the Hurricane created.