The United States Department of Housing & Urban Development recently announced the first round of funding for the RUSH program. RUSH is a rapid response program that will address homelessness in areas hit by disasters, including southwest Florida, where recovery is slow following Hurricane Ian. For the first time, allocated funds will directly help the homeless population. Typically, this population is forgotten during natural disasters.
Hurricane Ian killed 119 people in Florida and caused at least $40 billion in damage. According to FEMA, Florida has already received $1.6 Billion in disaster relief. Additionally, FEMA says $680 million of the Rapid Response relief is in the hands of homeowners. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell recently updated the housing situation in Southwest Florida. Criswell says the primary goal is debris removal so the recovery process can begin.
…As we look at what the long-term temporary housing needs might be, we still have some temporary short-term, or immediate needs, like through our hotel program. Our records show there are about 71,000 people that are eligible for this hotel program, our transitional sheltering assistance. Deanne Criswell, FEMA Administrator
Meanwhile, Criswell tells PBS that just over 2,000 families are in hotels, so resources are still available. However, people experiencing homelessness often have very limited eligibility for FEMA transitional sheltering assistance. HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge says this is where the rapid response (RUSH) program will fill in the gap helping those experiencing homelessness in Southwest Florida’s disaster zone.
Rapid Response (RUSH) Program: How It Works
FEMA does not provide long-term housing assistance. So, displaced people find themselves at risk of homelessness when short-term assistance ends. Disasters often drive up rental costs, so the RUSH program will assist those who are at risk of becoming homeless.
RUSH funding is available to people in emergency shelters, transitional housing, living in structures not meant for human inhabitation, at risk of homelessness, or facing eviction in the next 21 days. Click Here to learn more about the first round of Rapid Response (RUSH) funding, its benefits, and how much each area in Southwest Florida has available to help those in need.