805 Undocufund Provides Relief to Immigrants in Need
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The 805 Undocufund has distributed nearly $150,000 in grants to 82 local families, but has a waiting list of hundreds more with thousands impacted.
After its initial round of assistance clinics, local immigrant-rights organizations reported they have provided $143,600 in financial aid to 40 Santa Barbara County and 42 Ventura County families.
Most of those families lost work as a result of the Thomas Fire and Montecito debris flow in their jobs as farm workers, domestic workers and in other impacted industries.
The average family received a grant of $1,750, varying from $500 to $3,000 based on the family’s impact from the disaster and current financial needs.
The groups estimate thousands of local residents have been impacted who are excluded from federally funded assistance programs due to their immigration status.
Some 60,000 residents of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties work in housekeeping, caregiving, landscaping, and farm labor, industries with heavily immigrant workforces that were severely impacted by the loss of large hillside homes that typically employ domestic workers, and wildfire smoke that made outdoor labor dangerous.
More than 500 local residents are on the waiting list for assistance, the majority of them domestic workers who worked in Montecito or farmworkers on the Oxnard plain.
The 805 Undocufund is working to raise enough funds to meet the immense and urgent need within the immigrant community, with $1 million needed to provide assistance to the current waiting list.
The 805 UndocuFund has raised more than $370,000 for relief grants, funded in part by grants from Annenberg Foundation, California Wellness Foundation, Direct Relief International, Linked Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, Zegar Family Foundation and an anonymous donor.
Substantial contributions also have been received from hundreds of community members.
Funding for administrative costs have been provided by the McCune Foundation, Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, and Weingart Foundation, allowing 100 percent of new donations to go directly toward aid to affected families.
With farm-worker housing and several apartment complexes destroyed or damaged; wildfire smoke making outdoor work like farm labor and landscaping hazardous; loss of homes, where many immigrants provide childcare or housekeeping; and ongoing severed freeway access cutting many off from service sector jobs in Montecito and Santa Barbara, the local immigrant community has been heavily economically impacted by the wildfire.
However, undocumented immigrants are excluded from federal programs such as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid and Disaster Unemployment Assistance.
Immigrant families face other barriers to seeking assistance including lack of familiarity with official institutions, fear of government agencies, and limited English proficiency.
Immigrant-serving organizations in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, including MICOP, CAUSE and FLA, are leading the effort, with support from the McCune Foundation, and funds being managed by the Ventura County Community Foundation.
Tax-deductible donations can be made by check to the Ventura County Community Foundation with “805 Undocufund” written in the memo, or made online at https://vccf.org/805-undocufund-donation/.
More information on the Undocufund is at 805undocufund.org.
— Lucas Zucker for 805 Undocufund.