Home on fire

After fires ravaged Northern California last fall, many people who lost wages, jobs, and homes relied on unemployment assistance or FEMA. But some people did not qualify for these types of government aid.

Medina: “Immediately we realized that a lot of the resources that were available, undocumented folks weren’t going to have access to.”

Omar Medina is with the UndocuFund, a program to help undocumented immigrants in Sonoma County recover from the fires. Some people needed help paying rent until they found new jobs. Others, who lost their homes, needed help with moving expenses or a deposit on a new apartment.

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Medina: “At the end of December 31, we had issued about $2.4 million worth of aid to nearly 1,000 families.”

Local organizations and more than 7,000 individuals contributed to the cause.

Fires and extreme weather will likely become more common and costly as the climate warms, so the need for programs like UndocuFund is likely to grow, both in Sonoma County and elsewhere. Medina says the time to get ready is now.

Medina: “We know that disasters aren’t gonna stop happening, so instead of starting from scratch again, you know, having a fund that’s already prepared to assist people in the future.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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