Gov. Rick Scott announces new employment partnership to help displaced Puerto Ricans

About 300,000 Puerto Ricans living in Florida after being displaced by hurricane

By Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter

MIAMI LAKES, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott announced a new employment partnership with the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce and Ana G. Mendez University for families displaced by Hurricane Maria. 

The initiative is part of a $1 million investment announced by the governor last month. 

The money will go to 12 state workforce development agencies. According to the governor's office, 7,600 people from Puerto Rico have used CareerSource Florida to find work in the state. 

"We did invest $1 million to 12 local workforce development boards to assist in job counseling services, holding additional specific hiring events, outreach to create awareness," Michelle Dennard, of CareerSource Florida, said.    

An estimated 300,000 Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Irma last year are living in Florida.

"We got here and didn't know anyone," Jennifer Gracia said.

Gracia said her family spent 45 days in a hospital with their young son after arriving in Miami. 

The search for long-term housing is also proving more difficult. 

"It's really not even low income housing as much as workforce housing," Scott said. "We've got it from the Keys to Orlando -- my home county, Collier County. We have a lot of work to do."

The program has come under fire lately. Last month, the Department of Economic Opportunity launched an investigation into whether the directors of two jobs centers padded the number of job placements reported to the state. 

"We expect the numbers to be transparent. We expect them to be accurate," the governor said. 

The event at the Ana G. Mendez campus in Miami Lakes included a roundtable discussion with business and community leaders  on the services being offered at job centers. 

"We are blessed because we are a state that people want to come to," Scott said. 

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