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Judge Extends TSA to August 31st Pending Ruling on TRO

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Judge Extends TSA to August 31st Pending Ruling on TRO

Location: 
Worcester, MA

CONTACT: Christiaan Perez, cperez@latinojustice.org, 212-739-7581

Summary: Judge Hillman heard oral arguments in our case against FEMA seeking a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent massive evictions of evacuees from Puerto Rico staying in hotels nationwide under the Temporary Shelter Assistance (TSA) program. He issued an oral ruling to extend his prior order of a TSA extension to August 31st and reserved ruling on the TRO until then.

Detailed: Today was a non-evidentiary hearing in the case Asencio et al. v FEMA* challenging FEMA’s termination of the TSA program for evacuees from Puerto Rico on June 30th, now temporarily staying at FEMA contracted hotels in the mainland U.S. The judge granted an extension of the TRO until August 31st with a formal ruling on the oral arguments expected before August 31st. As a non-evidentiary hearing, neither counsel presented witnesses or evidence. You can find a detailed breakdown of Asencio, et al arguments in the Class Action Amended Complaint linked below.

Background: As you know, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and our co-counsel at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP & the Law Office of Hector Pineiro on Saturday, June 30th filed a lawsuit and emergency motion for a Temporary Restraining Order staying the termination of the TSA rental subsidy and mass eviction of these evacuees subjecting them to yet further trauma. After a preliminary emergency telephonic conference Saturday evening, Massachusetts Federal Judge Leo Sorokin issued an electronic temporary restraining order enjoining the FEMA defendants from terminating the Temporary Housing Assistance program providing shelter payments for the plaintiffs and the putative class members until at least midnight July 3, 2018 enabling plaintiffs & class members to stay until checkout time on July 4, 2018; ordered the defendants and their agents to provide notice and take whatever action is necessary to extend the assistance until the aforementioned deadline; and scheduled a further hearing today before the assigned judge to the case, Judge Hillman. Judge Sorokin noted his ruling was without prejudice to any rulings to be made by Judge Hillman.

On Sunday, July 1 FEMA issued an announcement noting Judge Sorokin’s order concerning the TSA rental assistance and noted it was working with its vendor and notifying hotels that the TSA program had been fully extended through July 5th in compliance with the Court’s order. On July 2 Judge Hillman conducted a telephonic hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion to continue and extend the temporary restraining order for at least 30 days pending a formal hearing on the motion for the Court to consider testimony and other evidence. The Judge reserved decision at the end of the hearing. Today's decision means the judge reserves the right to make a ruling on or before August 31st.

We will provide a further update once a decision is issued, stay tuned for more updates.

Background Documents