In the last two years, the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund managed by Napa Valley Community Foundation has distributed $9.2 million to help those affected by the October 2017 wildfires.
Of this amount, $6.4 million has been distributed in the form of direct financial assistance to more than 2,400 workers, households and small businesses who lost homes, personal property or income because of the fires, the Foundation reported.
Total distributions have increased by $3 million since the first anniversary of the fires in October of 2018, largely driven by a program that is making cash grants of up to $35,000 to help qualified homeowners with repairs or rebuilding; and cash grants of up to $12,500 to help qualified renters replace essential household items.
“Countywide, fewer than 38% of those who lost their homes have applied for a permit to start construction, and we know that many families continue to struggle with their insurance claims,” said NVCF President Terence Mulligan. “That’s why we are extending and expanding our cash aid program for homeowners, and making additional resources available for those who need assistance in navigating their insurance claims or forcefully advocating for reasonable payouts.”
The Foundation will be hosting a webinar on navigating insurance claims, as well as a pro-bono legal clinic, in partnership with the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization United Policyholders on Oct. 18.
A separate program to train local workers in the construction trades will begin next week, with an initial class of approximately 40 students. The goal of the workforce collaborative is to help hourly workers build the skills they need to gain employment in the booming construction sector and to address the critical shortage of construction labor, which has slowed the pace of rebuilding and driven up costs, post-wildfires. Classes are being offered in Calistoga and Napa.
“Even as we double-down on programs to help homeowners rebuild, we are taking the long view about the future,” said Mulligan. “We know our community will face another disaster one day, so we’ve begun discussions with our nonprofit and government partners about investments we can make now for greater preparedness and resiliency down the road.”
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In addition to the $9.2 million distributed so far, the Foundation has set aside nearly $600,000 for pre-approved grants to 17 “second-responder” nonprofit organizations, so they can immediately provide relief services and cash assistance to survivors in the event of a future declared disaster affecting Napa County.
The $9.2 million in grant distributions so far include:
— $6.4 million in direct financial assistance to 2,409 households and small businesses, including; 2,034 low-income families who lost income and needed short-term assistance with rent and utilities; 224 households who needed longer-term rental assistance, relocation help and intensive case management; 21 small businesses to reduce economic and physical losses; 58 uninsured renters who lost their homes; and 72 underinsured homeowners whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the firestorm.
— $2.4 million to provide relief and recovery services to more than 15,000 Napa County fire survivors, including temporary shelter, meals, medical care, mental health counseling, legal aid, application assistance and help to navigate insurance claims. Funding for the workforce collaborative is included in this amount, as is funding for a core group of nonprofits that has carefully qualified survivors for significant cash aid payments, and made such payments in amounts ranging from $500 to $35,000 per household or small business.
— $368,000 to defray a portion of the direct program expenses incurred by the foundation in managing the disaster relief fund for the past two years.
The disaster relief fund is managed by NVCF and was established with a $10 million lead gift from Napa Valley Vintners following the 2014 South Napa Earthquake. Since October 2017, more than 25,000 donors have contributed $16.4 million to help Napa County residents recover and rebuild from the fires.