Relief program open for residences damaged by wildfires, mudflows, debris flows from Thomas Fire
Homeowners with residences damaged during the Thomas Fires and Montecito mudslides could be eligible for grants of up to $200,000.
ReCover CA, on behalf of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, is offering a program called Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, which provides grants to eligible homeowners whose primary residence was impacted by 2017 and 2018 wildfires, mudflows and debris flows.
Any residents whose property was damaged by the eligible disasters are encouraged to fill out the Disaster Housing Assistance Survey, which is the first step to receive program funding.
The program began accepting surveys from 2017 survivors in January, and invites respondents to complete the application process this month.
Up to $150,000 can be provided for 2017 disasters, and up to $200,000 can be provided for 2018 disasters.
Applicants will be prioritized according to the impacted area and applicant income.
According to the Chief Disaster Recovery Officer for HCD, Maziar Movassaghi, there have been 451 surveys submitted for 2017.
“Survey information will be evaluated to determine which tier, if any, a respondent falls within based on the location of the damaged property, household income and extent of damages,” Ms. Movassaghi told the News-Press. “The program must ensure that the housing needs of low-to-moderate income households and vulnerable populations are addressed.”
The program anticipated around 350 applications from the survivors of the 2017 eligible disasters, according to Ms. Movassaghi.
Funding for the program comes from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is administered by the HCD as the grantee.
Eligible participants must: be a U.S. citizen or a qualified resident; have legally owned and occupied a single-family dwelling in an affected county as their primary residence during the disasters; have sustained damages directly linked to one of the eligible disasters; and be current on property taxes or have an approved payment plan or tax exemption.
Eligible program costs include: permitting, design and planning; replacement of damaged or destroyed necessary equipment such as HVAC units; standard grade repairs to disaster-damaged primary structures; upgrades required to meet code in disaster-damaged areas of the home; accessibility features in disaster-damaged areas of the home; and lead-based paint and asbestos abatement in disaster-damaged areas of the home.
In order to be eligible, applicants must provide proof of identity (photo ID/passport), ownership (tax records, title/deed), occupancy (utility bill, voter registration, insurance policy), federal benefits eligibility (passport, birth certificate, qualified alien status), current property taxes/payment plan, income (paystubs, pension/social security income statements) and damage from the disaster (insurance claims, FEMA or SBA documents, pictures).
Ms. Movassaghi added that homeowners struggling to get insurance to pay for rebuilding costs is a “large issue that needs to be addressed on many fronts.”
“One is that the Insurance Commissioner’s Office has initiated activities to address this issue through his authorities,” she said. “The other is that the HCD is working with the Office of the State Fire Marshal and CalOES in developing home hardening/ignition resistant retrofitting programs to help existing homes and better plan for future development.
“Another is that the HCD is providing mitigation funding to prepare communities for future disastrous through community-wide resilient infrastructure work.”
Any residents with properties affected by the Thomas Fire are encouraged to fill out the survey at https://recover.hcd.ca.gov/.