Supporting Residents and Communities During Record Setting Wildfires
Our hearts go out to residents, firefighters, healthcare workers and everyone coping with the impacts of the fires. California has previously dealt with fires, but the devastation during a public health crisis makes it even more difficult to ensure the safety of people who have lost their homes and have been evacuated.
Already, the state’s capacity to respond has been significantly reduced by the Covid-induced shortage of prison laborers deployed to fight fires for a dollar an hour. Times like this we are reminded of how connected we are to each other.
We know that disasters—whether from the pandemic, economic downturn or massive fires—do not impact all communities equally. Low-income Californians, especially Black and Latinx communities on the frontlines of intersecting disasters, often live in more vulnerable areas and in less stable housing. Financial relief comes too slow with barriers for these communities: Renters are entitled to less relief than homeowners, and undocumented Californians—though many deemed essential workers—are denied access to federal aid.
The recovery process often excludes frontline communities with Black and Latinx communities facing additional systemic barriers. This inequitable cycle repeats, not only in Santa Rosa and Paradise, but in San Juan and Houston and Cedar Rapids and hundreds of other communities impacted by climate change.
How can we change this cycle? Last year, Enterprise launched our Democratizing Resilience and Disaster Recovery Initiative to help community-based organizations, philanthropic partners and government agencies address the disparities during recovery by influencing disaster programs and elevating models that center the needs of frontline communities. In the coming months, we will be launching a website with information and tools to help with a more just recovery from future disasters. Our Building Sustainable Neighborhoods team is also working to prevent future climate change events by creating more equitable, connected, climate-smart communities.
Right now, it is critical that California use state and federal resources as creatively and swiftly as possible to ensure that Californians can safely shelter in place and evacuate if needed. The housing instability, and for many unemployment, caused by the pandemic and fires underscore the need for state action to ensure legal protections for tenants to stay housed and resources for emergency rental assistance.
The pandemic has forced us to reevaluate our health and economic relief systems—let this moment be one to re-envision how to prepare, respond and recover from this disaster and future ones.
State of California’s Guide to Disaster Assistance Services for Immigrant Californians provides information on health, housing, emergency supplies, employment and other services available to all Californians, regardless of their immigration status.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services connects residents with a wide range of services and programs targeted specifically at those who have been affected by wildfires.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides emergency medical, housing and other types of assistance for those affected by disasters.
Enterprise’s Ready to Respond: Disaster Staffing Toolkit is a guide for multifamily affordable housing organizations to help develop comprehensive disaster staffing plans to protect buildings, engage residents, and continue business operations in the event of a disaster.
The NAACP’s In the Eye of the Storm: A People’s Guide to Transforming Crisis and Advancing Equity in the Disaster Continuum provides an overview of the equity issues that communities of color face through the disaster continuum from mitigation to response to recovery, and tools for community organizations to address those issues.
The Center for Urban Pedagogy & Pro Bono Net developed Figuring Out FEMA to increase transparency around accessing FEMA assistance for individuals and families.
CDC guidance on Covid Safe Sheltering.
American Red Cross: Donations for disaster relief efforts.
California Fire Foundation: Emotional and financial assistance to families of firefighters and the communities they protect.
CDP California Wildfires Recovery Fund: Center for Disaster Philanthropy supports those affected by the wildfires.
Community Foundation Santa Cruz County: Support those affected by the August Lightning Complex fires.
Latino Community Foundation NorCal Wildfire Relief Fund: Support to frontline community partners.
Monterey County Community Resilience Program: Assistance for those impacted by the River Fire.
Napa Valley Community Foundation’s 2020 Napa County Wildfire Fund: Assistance for those affected by disasters in Napa Valley.
Puente: Support the Half Moon Bay Evacuation Center 24/7 and hotel vouchers.
Solano Disaster Relief Fund: Support to nonprofits that provide assistance to individuals and families impacted by the wildfires.
Sonoma County UndocuFund: Provides direct relief to undocumented residents of Sonoma County who are excluded from federal government assistance.
Wildfire Relief Fund: Assistance for immediate, mid- and long term recovery efforts for major California wildfires.
World Central Kitchen: Chef José Andres’ World Central Kitchen is feeding firefighters and evacuees.