TAMPA, Fla. -- Living in a hotel isn't ideal, but Lillian Vasquez hopes it won't last much longer.
- Catholic Charities renting hotel rooms for Puerto Rican evacuees
- Evacuees struggle to come up with deposit money for permanent homes
- Group partnered with Hillsborough County on assistance grant
- RELATED: Puerto Rican hurricane evacuees wait for FEMA housing ruling
"If you notice, we don't have any room for our things, Vasquez said. "Space is limited. We don’t have closet space, the stove doesn't work, the fridge doesn't work."
With FEMA assistance officially ending Thursday, Catholic Charities is stepping in to help, working with 26 families who still don't have a permanent place to live.
The organization rented out 23 hotel rooms at the Rodeway Inn near Busch Gardens while the families look for a permanent home.
Many of them, like Vasquez, have had a hard time saving up money for rent and deposits.
In addition to the extended hotel stay, Catholic Charities is also paying for families' security deposits, utility fees and several months' rent.
There is no time limit for how long the families can stay in the new hotel, but they hope to be out in about a week now that they're getting housing assistance.
Catholic Charities is partnering with Hillsborough County to pay for the extra assistance. It's coming from what's called the emergency solutions grant -- a little more than $272,000 is going toward hotels and housing for Hurricane Maria evacuees.
The organization has already found housing for three families this week.
"It motivates you because you have to find something even more quickly and you have to try harder," said Germari Cruz, who is staying right above Vasquez at the Rodeway Inn.
For Cruz, the hotel life has been especially challenging.
"My son has severe autism and the lock doesn't work so he can get out. Yesterday, he opened the door and got out. If somebody hadn't found him, he would have gotten run over," she said.
It's been a difficult journey, but the two women said they're grateful for the help.
They are choosing not to return to Puerto Rico because of the lack of resources. They said they'd rather tough it out here until they find homes of their own.
"We're already looking for a home. I have six places on my list. I’m going to go see three of them right now," Vasquez said.