California Wildfires 2020: Where to Go for Financial Relief Assistance, Temporary Housing Solutions

firefighters fighting large wildfire

As firefighters work to contain 28 major wildfires in California, turmoil has already struck many in the west. Since the start of the year, 3.2 million acres have burned in the state. 

The already record fire season has four months to go, and comes as the state grapples with an economic downturn and an unemployment rate of 13.3% in July.

With fires forcing evacuations in numerous parts of the state, some may face economic impacts. These may include an extended absence from work, work stoppage, or loss of employment.

Thousands may face home loss or damage. These may pose significant financial setbacks.

Californians affected by the wildfire devastation have resources to turn to for assistance, including temporary housing and financial relief

Financial assistance:

Californians affected by the disaster may find financial assistance through assorted resources. 

The California Community Foundation offers relief assistance and distributes funds to communities in need. Wildfire relief assistance may be available to you through local resources designated for local community relief.

Other local and regional services may be available to residents affected by the devastation. These services may include home energy assistance, which helps to avoid interruption of utilities. Keeping the lights on shouldn’t be a worry, especially when you may be facing a disaster.

Additional community services may include food relief. If you’re out of work, you may also be eligible for reemployment assistance. Qualified individuals may also receive short-term housing assistance.

Another assistance option may be a relief grant. A disaster grant from FEMA may support $5,000 to $8,000 for wildfire victims. Residents of select counties who have experienced disaster-caused damage may apply for assistance. Eligible counties (as of Sept. 14) include Butte, Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo. 

Facing an evacuation? 

Here’s where to turn for temporary housing assistance. 

With 28 wildfires actively burning, evacuations have been ordered for parts of northern, central and southern California.

For those displaced by the devastation, temporary housing assistance is available through the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. Airbnb is also connecting disaster victims with hosts who are offering free spaces.

Called Airbnb Open Homes, the program allows hosts to open their homes for those affected by disaster situations. The program is designed to support evacuees and others who may be in a time of need.

To be considered eligible, guests must reside in an impacted area or be a classified relief worker responding in an official capacity. Guests may be required to provide proof of address during their application process.

Airbnb may suspend the Open Homes program in select areas, depending on evacuation orders and safety compliance. Factors like the number of participating hosts will determine availability.

The American Red Cross has open shelters in select counties throughout the state. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered traditional options that might otherwise be available in disaster situations.

You are encouraged to check the American Red Cross website for shelter locations and availability. You may also download the FEMA mobile app or text SHELTER and your zip code to 4FEMA for emergency shelter information in your area.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, some supplies and resources may be limited at shelter locations. Consider supplying what you can, such as bedding, clothing, and other basic essentials.

FEMA may also support you with temporary rental assistance while you make plans for permanent housing. Those eligible are homeowners and renters whose primary residence is determined uninhabitable following a FEMA inspection.

Additionally, support in the way of house repair assistance to ensure your residence is habitable may be covered through FEMA. A home inspection will be necessary to assess disaster-caused damages.

Whatever it is you may be battling, Net Pay Advance wants to help you. Stay safe. 

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