Residents Respond to Workers Affected by Fire
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An emergency fund set up to assist workers who lost their jobs following the Thomas fire and mudslides in Montecito Heights has helped more than 80 families in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, but another 500 families are on a waiting list for aid, organizers said this week.
The 805 Undocufund was created in the aftermath of the fire by organizations that serve immigrant communities in the two counties. Ventura County Community Foundation manages the relief fund.
Through assistance clinics organized last month by Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project and other groups, the fund provided $143,600 to 82 families in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, Genevieve Flores-Haro of MICOP said.
On average, families received $1,750, with grant amounts ranging from $500 to $3,000, she said.
But hundreds of families continue to struggle weeks after the disasters because wage earners lost work as field hands, caregivers, landscapers and other positions. More than 500 families have applied for help and are awaiting assistance, Flores-Haro said.
Most of those displaced served as domestic workers in homes destroyed by the mudslides, as well as farmworkers in the Oxnard Plain where smoky conditions left field hands without work for weeks, Flores-Haro said in a news release.
Undocumented workers are legally excluded from federal assistance programs such as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid and Disaster Unemployment Assistance, she said.
“Although we’ve raised $370,000 and given out about $150,000, hundreds of families remain on our waitlist,” Lucas Zucker of CAUSE told the Acorn. “We’re hoping to raise awareness to continue bringing in enough donations to cover everyone who’s applied for assistance.”
Organizers estimate $1 million will be needed to help all those on the fund’s waiting list, Flores- Haro said.
Donations have come in through the Annenberg Foundation, the California Wellness Foundation, Direct Relief International, Linked Foundation, the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Zegar Family Foundation and an anonymous donor, she said.
Other donors have provided administrative services for the 805 Undocufund, allowing 100 percent of donations to directly help immigrant families, she said.
For information on how to make a tax-deductible donation to 805 Undocufund, visit 805undocufund.org.