Guideline For Displaced Families

Food and Water

Food and Water is a basic need. There are multiple locations in Hartford where one can find low cost/free food and water during an emergency situation.

Locate Food Banks/Donations in Hartford 

Institutions that offer affordable food and water are:

  • The Salvation Army
  • Religious Institutions
  • The Hartford Public School System

The Salvation Army is an institution that can offer affordable food as well as assist displaced families with where to locate other institutions that are providing low cost food. Similarly, religious institutions and the Hartford Public School System are known to collect donations of all kinds during a disaster that affects a large population. Turn to local religious centers and schools to ask about any food banks or food donations they have gathered for people in need. If you are looking for assistance finding food and water:

Locate Prepared Meals

Local social service institutions took on the responsibility of preparing hot meals for the displaced families who could not cook for themselves. Some of the institutions were:

  • Food kitchens
  • Religious institutions
  • Grassroots organizations

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, there was a clear need for food drives that provided the displaced families with non-perishable foods, but there was also a lack of access to kitchens for the families to prepare these foods. Reach out to institutions in your city to see if they offer these kinds of services.

Apply for State Aid : SNAP/WIC 

  • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is a Federal program that provides low-income, struggling families with financial assistance to buy food.
  • WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is a Federal program that provides low-income, struggling women who are pregnant or breast feeding and children under the age of 5 with financial assistance to buy food.

Both of these programs are Federally funded and require an application process. Work with your case manager to determine if you are eligible to apply for these programs.


Families coming from Puerto Rico were not prepared for the colder weather of Connecticut. It was necessary for the displaced families to find weather-appropriate, affordable clothing. If you are looking for clothing assistance:

Locate Free/low cost clothing options in Hartford 

There are multiple institutions in Hartford that offer low cost clothing such as:

  • The Salvation Army
  • Goodwill
  • Savers
  • The Hartford Public School System
  • Religious Institutions

The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Savers are known to sell affordable clothing. The Hartford Public School System and some religious institutions also organized clothing drives to assist those who had just migrated to the city after Hurricane Maria. Reach out to the Schools and religious centers to ask about any available clothing they may have collected.

If you’re struggling to find affordable clothing, speak with your case manager to find other options to locate weather-appropriate clothing. 


Displaced families from Puerto Rico struggled with finding adequate shelter. When you fist arrive to your new city, try to find emergency/temporary housing. When you are able to, start to transition yourself in to long-term housing.

Locate emergency/temporary housing options

In Hartford, there are institutions that provide and assist with finding emergency/temporary housing for low cost such as:

  • Friends/family
  • Religious Institutions
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • 2-1-1

Displaced individuals from Hurricane Maria found themselves relying on friends/family as their immediate source of housing when first arriving in  Hartford. Religious Institutions offer living spaces for families while they work towards finding independent long-term housing. FEMA helps struggling individuals and families with emergency relief during and after a natural disaster occurs. 2-1-1 is an emergency social service hotline that assists with finding shelter and housing options. The families we interviewed shared their experiences with FEMA and 2-1-1, but stated that these institutions were not the most reliable sources. When going into meetings with FEMA or 2-1-1, know which documents to bring and research the services you are entitled to. These are federal and state funded programs that are designed for the specific purpose of providing aid in emergency situations.

It is important to note that these options are temporary and therefore are not dependable for extended periods of time.

Locate long-term housing

Many displaced families after Hurricane Maria struggled to find long-term housing in Hartford. In order to make the transition from temporary to long-term housing, work with your case manager. Case mangers can aid in locating long-term housing options in both the public and private sector. Your case manager can also help you navigate the housing system with respect to missing documentation, out of state identification, deposits, and letters of recommendation.

It is illegal for housing institutions to create new rules regarding housing and utility payments that disproportionately affect a certain population.

Section 8

According to their website, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program “is the federal government’s major program for assisting very-low-income families to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Participants are able to find their own housing, including apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes.” For more information on Section 8, visit their website here.

Section 8 is a program that is supposed to  transfer across state and U.S. territory lines. However, one individual we interviewed had difficulty with transitioning her Section 8 services from Puerto Rico into Hartford. To ensure that you receive the best possible assistance, be in constant communication with the State Government.  


Transitioning to life in a new city can be difficult, especially without job security. If you find yourself in a position where you are unable to find secure job placement upon your arrival:

Speak with friends and family

This was the predominant way displaced individuals found job opportunities after Hurricane Maria, but it not a reliable option. It’s important to note that depending on hearing about jobs from friends/family may not be the best course of action and one should keep themselves alert to job openings around the city.

These are local Hartford institutions that provide job assistance:

  • Capital Workforce Partners
  • Hamilton Connections
  • The Salvation Army

Hamilton Connections and The Salvation Army helped displaced families after Hurricane Maria locate job openings around Hartford. Capital Workforce Partners helped individuals with resumes building, interview training, career coaching and employment placement. Turn to these organizations for job assistance.

If you’re struggling to find secure job placement, speak with your case manager to find other options that will work for you. Your case manager will also be able to assist with the language barrier issue as many have come across difficulty with going through the interview process with limited to no English.

Mental Health

A natural disaster often entails a traumatic experience that might cause you to develop emotional agony. If you find yourself in this position or something similar:

Locate local Hartford institutions that provide assistance with Mental Health:

  • Catholic Charities
  • Community Renewal Team (CRT)

Although these organizations reported providing Mental Health services to individuals displaced by Hurricane Maria, some displaced families were unaware of the services or had difficulty taking advantage these services. In order to ensure that you are prioritizing your mental health during such a difficult time, it is very important that you try to go to Catholic Charities or CRT and receive such crucial mental health service.

Try to connect with local social groups to share personal stories of trauma as a therapeutic way to speak about similar experiences.


Educational services are one of the most effective forms to aid an individual’s transition into a new city. In Hartford, the school system provided both children and adults with diverse types of assistance to ease Hurricane Maria’s displaced families. If you are struggling with transitioning into the school system of your new city, consider the following: 

To help your child(ren) transition:

The Hartford Public School Welcome Center assisted with providing school enrollment services to register children who arrived in Hartford due to the natural disaster. They also offered uniform assistance and transportation assistance when families were unable to afford it. Additionally, the Center provided special education services  to accommodate children with certain needs, such as English Second Language (ESL) programs. Reach out to your local school system regarding these services provided by the Hartford Public School Welcome Center. Encourage your child(ren) to participate in extracurricular activities offered at their schools, or mentorship programs that promote new opportunities in the community. The Hartford Public School System offers a variety of extracurricular and mentorship programs. 

To help adults transition:

The Hartford Public School Welcome Center offers registration aid for parents to help them understand the new school system. They also provide English Second Language (ESL) programs to promote learning English to adults. Reach out to your local school system to learn about these services.  One can also become more active in the education system by participating in the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) or in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). 

Case Management 

Case management is a collaborative process of communicating, assessing, planning, coordinating, and evaluating the services that are needed by populations facing extreme difficulties. Case managers are there to help you receive the best possible aid available to you.

These are local Hartford institutions that provide case management and case management placement:

  • 2-1-1
  • The Salvation Army
  • Catholic Charities 
  • Community Renewal Team (CRT)

2-1-1 provide case management placement to displaced families such as individuals who arrived to Hartford after Hurricane Maria. Catholic Charities, The Salvation Army and Community Renewal Team (CRT) offer case managers to make your transition easier.

Although these organizations have reported providing this type of service, individuals displaced by Hurricane Maria had difficulty taking advantage or becoming aware of these services. Take advantage of these institutions to facilitate your transition.

When does case management end?

When case management should cease is a tricky and delicate thing to decipher. It will vary from individual to individual; no one case will be the same. Case managers help you obtain the best available aid until you reach security in your needs. When an individual feels they have reached security with their needs such as Food/Water, Clothes, Employment, Mental Health, and Education assistance then they may begin to finalize their dependency on their case manager. Once progression from life with a case manager is complete, you will be able to navigate life in your new city independently. 

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