WNPR

Community Organizers To Rally In Hartford To Support Disaster Relief Bill

Feb 27, 2018

A rally for Puerto Rican families will take place in Hartford on Wednesday. Organizers of the event hope it will lead to the passage of a bill in the Connecticut legislature that will set aside money for hurricane relief.

“Our No. 1 demand to the actual legislators is to make sure that HB-5082 receives a public hearing and that the Puerto Rican population gets a chance to speak to the legislature and explain exactly what is going on—exactly how our families are being affected,” Jason Ortiz said.

Ortiz, the president of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda and the executive assistant to Hartford city Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez, said that Wednesday’s rally will be a success if the state Appropriations Committee agrees to hold a hearing on the bill.

The bill asks for $2.5 million in state funding. If it passes, the idea would be that people from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands could apply for aid for basic needs like housing. In addition, school districts could apply for funds for taking on evacuee students, and nonprofits that host relief centers would also qualify.

Ortiz believes that the federal government has the most responsibility in getting evacuees the help they need. But he said that money appropriated by the state would guarantee a direct benefit to Connecticut residents.

“We need everybody involved,” Ortiz said. “This is a matter of making sure we can handle disaster relief generally. Right now, if I were to see how Connecticut handled the last few months — there was a lot of goodwill and good intentions, but we definitely did not hit the mark.”

Ortiz said that the event will be the first time that Puerto Ricans gather en masse on a statewide level to ask for help.