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Puerto Ricans

East Park / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Central Florida is extending its offer of in-state tuition to students who came to the school from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria.

President Trump astonished people across the country last week when he denied 3,000 Puerto Ricans died as a result of Hurricane Maria. He insisted (falsely) that Democrats inflated the death toll to make him “look bad.”

For Ernesto Morales, Trump’s tweets exacerbated his awful memories of the storm, which demolished Puerto Rico a year ago this Thursday.

Roberto Roldan

Many Puerto Rican’s lost everything when Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017. Tens of thousands of people made the decision to take what belongings they had left and travel to the mainland. Many have started new lives in Central and South Florida. These new Floridians already have had significant influence on political races, the public school system and affordable housing.

This week on Florida Matters, we'll hear the stories of two people who chose to make the Tampa Bay area their new home:

Like many Puerto Ricans who fled to the mainland after Hurricane Maria, Jose Santiago has been scrambling to find a place to live. The federal vouchers that pay for his hotel room near the Orlando airport expire at checkout time Friday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it didn't handle housing vouchers for displaced residents of Puerto Rico any differently from those of displaced Texas and Florida residents after last year's hurricanes.

Blue tarps still dot rooftops, homes lack electricity needed to refrigerate medicines, and clinics chip away at debts incurred from running generators. Yet despite these residual effects from last year's devastating hurricanes, Puerto Rico is moving ahead with major cuts to its health care safety net that will affect more than a million of its poorest residents.

Judge Extends FEMA Maria Emergency Aid And Sets A Hearing

Jul 23, 2018

A judge has again ordered an extension of FEMA’s temporary shelter program for displaced Puerto Ricans. The judge is giving families until midnight August 6 to stay in hotels. That means checkout would be on August 7.

The last time the federal government asked about citizenship status on the U.S. census was 1950. Now federal officials plan to do it again in 2020.

Population growth in Florida is below projected census expectations and is slowing down overall. 

A judge has stopped FEMA from ending its housing assistance program for Puerto Rican families displaced by hurricane Maria. 

YUISA RIOS / FEMA

The federal program that has provided hotel vouchers to Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria will end on Saturday, and advocates are worried some Tampa Bay families will be left with nowhere to go.

FEMA’s Transitional Housing Program for Puerto Rican families displaced after Hurricanes Irma and Maria is slated to end June 30.

Lanesha Smith of FEMA says that means families can still apply for short-term rental assistance in the U.S,. but the majority of programs will be offered in Puerto Rico.

“Families with sick and elderly folks and child who need around the clock assistance or are disabled those are the families who are left behind. And that’s why we need funds released by the Governor to make short-term housing an option.”

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

North Florida counties led the state in the growth rate of Florida's Hispanic population last year, but traditional bastions in South Florida and central Florida led growth in pure numbers, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Caribbean American Civic Movement

A small street festival outside Miami features booths adorned with Puerto Rican flags. A band plays salsa music as vendors offer specialties from the Caribbean island such as rice with pork and chickpeas. There's also a woman working her way through the crowd with a clipboard, her white T-shirt emblazoned with the words "Your vote, your voice, your future."

On this week's Florida Matters More podcast, host Robin Sussingham is joined by Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald Tribune; and WUSF's Steve Newborn. They discuss politicians who've shaken things up this year, like House Speaker Richard Corcoran and attorney John Morgan, plus what they consider the most under-reported stories of the year.

Be sure to subscribe to Florida Matters More, and get the view from the "other side of the mic" every week.

It used to be that when political experts would pontificate about "Latinos" in Florida, they were talking about Cubans. But those days are over. There are now more than one million Puerto Ricans in Florida (1,006,542 to be exact).

Three and a half million people live in Puerto Rico. But many more Puerto Ricans, about 5.2 million, live on the U.S. mainland. Over the last decade, crime, the struggling economy and a fiscal crisis have prompted tens of thousands to leave the island each year. Many land in Florida.

At a community center in Orlando this week, Puerto Rican leaders from all over the U.S. gathered at a conference with an ambitious goal: to forge a national political agenda — and flex some political muscle.