A year has passed since devastating wildfires swept through Northern California, destroying homes and upending lives throughout the region, including those of thousands of undocumented community members.
Thanks to the support of thousands of donors and dozens of volunteers, the UndocuFund for Fire Relief in Sonoma County has over the past 12 months raised and distributed roughly $6 million in direct assistance to almost 1,900 families impacted by the fires.
Formed to support undocumented immigrants who lost homes, jobs, and wages in the fires, the Fund held 30 community clinics over the past year to assess the needs of undocumented fire survivors and process applications for aid.
The support we’ve provided has helped families get back on their feet by defraying the cost of temporary housing, moving and storage expenses, and medical bills. It’s helped families replace possessions lost in the fire, from tools and equipment for work to school supplies, clothes and household goods.
Yet many are still struggling to regain what they’ve lost. For undocumented fire victims, who do not qualify for FEMA aid and face barriers accessing other forms of support, recovery is particularly challenging.
In late August, UndocuFund hosted a listening session to hear from fund beneficiaries about the challenges they still face. Many said they are struggling to find adequate housing for their families, secure transportation to their jobs, and simply make ends meet. Several expressed fears about whether they are prepared for the next disaster and said they’ve struggled to get the mental health support they need.
One year has passed since the fires, yet many are still rebuilding their lives. The UndocuFund is committed not only to supporting the recovery of every undocumented family touched by last year’s fires, but to advancing equity for all immigrant communities.
The Fund is still accepting support and we will continue to provide direct assistance to families until the end of the year. Together we will move toward a more just and equitable future.
Emma and her three kids—one adult and two minors—lost their home and everything inside of it. The fires traumatized Emma’s adult child, who has special needs, and she’s had to work less to care for him. UndocuFund’s grant helped pay for rent and replace some lost belongings, but Emma continues to struggle to make ends meet.
Osmar and his family—his mother and father, and his adult son and daughter—lost the home they lived with and most of their belongings. His father fell ill shortly after the fires and Osmar temporarily lost his job. UndocuFund’s grant help them secure a new home, cover medical costs, and replace some items. His new commute is extremely long, but he feels fortunate that his employer has resumed operations.
Blanca, her husband, and their four children lost their apartment and all their possessions in the fires. Her husband also lost his job when his employer burned down. UndocuFund’s initial grant helped them cover a down payment on a new apartment, allowing them to move out of her sister’s home, and a later payment helped them replace lost possessions.
Check out the photos from our first application workshop! Many thanks to the 100-plus volunteers who made it possible for us to hold 30 such clinics.