In this Jan. 23, 2018 photo, Yandeliz Neris studies a workbook inside her family's hotel room at the Rodeway Inn in Tampa, Florida, where she's living with her family after Hurricane Maria destroyed their home in Puerto Rico.
In this Jan. 23, 2018 photo, Yandeliz Neris studies a workbook inside her family's hotel room at the Rodeway Inn in Tampa, Florida, where she's living with her family after Hurricane Maria destroyed their home in Puerto Rico.

A U.S. federal judge has extended by 20 days the housing aid program helping Puerto Ricans still unable to return home after last year’s Hurricane Maria damaged thousands of homes as well as the U.S. territory’s power grid.

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans were affected by Tuesday’s decision. They are living in motel rooms and other FEMA-provided housing, where their stay has been repeatedly extended while their homes remain uninhabitable.

The aid was supposed to end at midnight June 30, but it was extended to July 4 after a civil rights group filed a class action lawsuit arguing that withdrawal of the funding would leave some of the recipients homeless. 

Tuesday’s decision by Judge Timothy Hillman will allow the evacuees to remain where they are until July 24, while the court holds further hearings to decide whether a longer extension is needed.

FEMA has released a statement saying it is complying with the order.