More Than $1 Million in Grants to Support Recovery from 2019 California Wildfires

A local homeowner salvages their belongings. (Source: State Farm; CC BY 2.0)

The greatest impacts from the disaster were related to the mandatory evacuations of nearly all of Sonoma County – estimated at 190,000 residents. Many of Sonoma’s residents were displaced for more than a week and experienced the total interruption in their livelihoods. During this time, the main utility company suspended services and deactivated the electrical grid for millions of customers (residential and business) for an extended period to prevent new fires being sparked by high-voltage power lines.

These massive evacuations and the disruption to the local economy had a disproportionate impact on Sonoma County’s large migrant and farm-working communities, including a significant undocumented population. These communities, predominately Latinx, quickly exhausted their extremely limited coping mechanisms and many returned to Sonoma County without jobs or livelihoods, whether it be from agricultural, tourism or service-related industries. Many of these same families are now dealing with the economic consequences from the current COVID-19 pandemic, which have made their recovery even more difficult.

After multiple consultations with key local community and recovery partners, CDP decided to focus the grants from the CDP 2019 California Wildfire Recovery Fund on supporting ongoing disaster case management (DCM) using both conditional and unconditional financial assistance to address the remaining unmet needs of hundreds of families still waiting for DCM. In total, three CDP grants will inject $750,000 directly into ongoing DCM across four local nonprofits. CDP is awarding two grants directly to Corazon Healdsburg and United Way of the Wine Country. UndocuFund and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa will receive funding via a third grant in partnership with the Community Foundation Sonoma County (CFSC) and their Sonoma County Resilience Fund.

Our investment in DCM is complemented by a fourth grant to the Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County on behalf of Rebuilding Our Community Sonoma County (ROC), the local long-term recovery group (LTRG) for Sonoma County and the Kincade Fire. The grant will strengthen and extend ROC’s operations and their resource center, a brick and mortar office that provides the public access to recovery and DCM services. As the principle hub for Kincade Fire recovery coordination, the ROC resource center allows other fund grantees to better collaborate and coordinate support for fire survivors.

The fifth grant supports Latino Service Providers and their well-established Latinx youth outreach and engagement program, which addresses mental health and PTSD in Sonoma County in partnership with the local school district and city of Santa Rosa.

Lastly, the final grant to United Policyholders targets communities affected by wildfires in northern and southern California and provides pro bono legal services for disaster survivors to help them secure and maintain housing post-disasters through advocacy and education related to insurance claims.

In total, the six grants and total funding of $1,100,000 will directly support thousands of residents across Sonoma County and southern California. We encourage others to continue to mobilize resources and support for these communities as they continue to rebuild and restore their lives and livelihoods after the 2019 California wildfire season.

Brennan Banks

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