More than a year following the horrific Camp Fire, more than 1,000 families remain unsheltered and are without basic needs. Our agency is focused on matching these families with one of our Case Managers to work through a long term sustainability plan, search for housing and provide resources to help launch them into a new more stable situation. Our efforts are also focused on ensuring they are connected to an ongoing list of resources and agencies wherever they end up whether that be here in our community or elsewhere. We also continue to provide shopping events for youth most impacted by last year’s devastating wildfire. This November we took 324 youth on a holiday shopping spree to get needed items including clothes, school supplies, housing items and more. We plan to continue to do this events moving forward for as long as we have resources to distribute. Our agency is also proud to stand alongside dozens of other non profit partners who are filling in the gaps and support those agencies whenever we have the opportunity as we believe collaboration will be the key to success in our recovery.
Our organization, United Way of Northern California, continues to be a leader on the front lines of the Camp Fire Recovery process. Throughout our initial Phase One response to the Camp Fire, we have been able to directly vet, approve and award more than 8,500 applications from families who lost their home in the Camp Fire. These resources have gone to cover basic needs as well as transportation/relocation costs. We are proud to call GlobalGiving a partner in that effort.
In our Phase Two response, we are focused on the mid-long term care for those who lost their home and have not been able to recover. This has happened to more than 1,000 of the almost 14,000 individuals/families impacted. Some of these were uninsured, some underinsured, some denied by FEMA for various reasons and others lost their job as many commercial buildings were also destroyed in the town of Paradise. To take on this enourmous long-term challenge- UWNC (with support from your organization) has been able to open an office in Chico (pictured) to be closer to the clients and give survivors greater access to our programs. This has helped tremendously as our only other office was located more than 80 miles away (in Redding) previously. We have also filled that office with three staff, two of which act as Full Time Case Managers to handle the more complicated cases we come across. To date, also with support from GlobalGiving we have been able to serve 23 clients and plan to do much more! Some examples of the type of care we are providing include helping with transportation (finding used vehichles for clients who are seeking work but lost their car in the fire) as well as re-housing through our Stable Housing Opportunities Program covering the cost of moving expenses, deposits, early utilities for those who need to relocate.
We believe we are positioned currently with the resources to help roughly 100 more families in this way. Our focus now is to continue to raise support for our Case Management/SHOP Initiative to help another 50+ families and transition back to our programs designed to make families more financially stable. Those programs include: financial coaching, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, workforce readiness workshops/job fairs and after school youth initiatives. We see this work as being even more critical in the future as we know our community will stop looking at this as "recovery" and simply have more homeless, more students less prepared for school and more families struggling to make ends meet. We can not thank GlobalGiving enough for their support to date of resources going directly to survivors that we have administered and for making us a strong organization to this point with the ability to react and get those most in need the help.
In response to the devastating Camp Fire, UWNC has been on the front lines getting emergency cash grants to individuals who lost their home. To date, we have been able to directly help more than 8,000 individuals and families. This includes accepting an application, verifying information for and providing a check to those that get approved. This critical resource for survivors has been life changing and sometimes life saving as initially, financial resources were extremely scarce. In speaking with many of the survivors, this funding was being used for basic needs as well as relocation costs and rent/deposits on temporary shelter sites. We can not thank GlobalGiving enough for the impact their funding has made to individuals at their most difficult time.
Here are a few stories from those who have recieved help for our agency:
The Gapuz family bought a house in Paradise, spent four years fixing it up and are devastated that now everything is gone. As soon as they got away from the fire, they were able to make it to the center and get help from UW. They received $500 and said it was a lifesaver. Leo was so grateful to UW for the money that he said “I just started crying wondering why they were so generous.”
The Laufer family lost both their home and business in the Camp Fire. Kerri said, “receiving help from UW took some pressure off of my mind as we were looking for a new place to call home. Another bright moment for us was participating in the back to school shopping spree for her girls. She said it was such a happy moment for her girls and they left feeling so special and happy that UW kept caring for us.”
In 1977, the Deppes family built a house on 7.5 acres that was their dream and retirement home. When the fire hit, they went to the center where UW was distributing funds. She said they were so caring and organized. “You don’t know in a stressful situation like this what you need but UW knows! They offered what they have and what they know bringing comfort to me and so many in my community”. She said.
Also, in January 2019 UWNC was able to take 130 students from Achieve Charter School in Paradise on a Back to School shopping spree at the Target in Chico. All particiapting students lost their home in the Camp Fire.
The Camp Fire which was the most destructive fire in California State history, claimed nearly 14,000 homes and 85 lives in Paradise, Magalia and Concow. United Way of Northern California was one of the first agencies to respond with emergency cash for those who lost their home. Each applicant, after showing proof of residence was awarded $500 that many used to relocate, find temporary housing or cover the cost of basic needs. Nearly all impacted were also out of work for an extended period of time and some did not have a job to go back to so the emergency cash was considered by state and federal authorities to be the most critical need throughout phase one of this emergency. To date, UWNC has provided more than 6,000 individuals and families that were impacted with emergency cash relief. United Way Nor Cal also organized a back to school shopping event for 130 students impacted by the Camp Fire. Our focus for Phase Two is going to be working closely with families who lost their home and are still struggling to find housing. Money donated to UWNC now will go to cover the cost of Case Management and housing related costs like help with first months rent, deposit and utilities for those families trying to come back from this terrible event.
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