From Napa Valley Register: Napa Valley Community Foundation starts new program to help wildfire victims

June 21, Register Staff

Napa Valley Community Foundation has started a program to help homeowners and renters replace essential household contents, make repairs or rebuild homes that were damaged or destroyed as a result of the October wildfires.

Grants are now available to Napa County homeowners whose primary residence was damaged or destroyed by the October wildfires and Napa County renters who lost essential household contents during the disaster.

“The purpose of this program is to provide financial assistance to homeowners and renters who need help to bridge the gaps that exist between personal savings and insurance, on the one hand, and the actual cost of replacing critical household items, making repairs or rebuilding, on the other,” said NVCF President Terence Mulligan.

The Homeowners and Renters Program is a collaboration between the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, which is managed by the Foundation, and E4E Relief, a national provider of disaster relief assistance.

E4E Relief is a nonprofit corporation, and partnered with NVCF to provide cash aid to hundreds of local homeowners following the 2014 South Napa Earthquake. More than 20,000 donors have made contributions to the disaster relief fund, and the fund is the sole source of financial support from the Homeowners and Renters Program.

Homeowners may apply for assistance with the “soft costs” associated with rebuilding, such as architectural, engineering or permitting fees; as well as the “hard costs” of rebuilding, such as hiring a contractor.

Renters may apply for assistance in replacing household items such as major appliances, furniture and computers. The maximum grant for homeowners is $35,000, and the maximum grant for renters is $12,500.

“In order to meet the requirements of the law and ensure an equitable distribution of funds, the other financial resources that homeowners and renters may have at their disposal – such as insurance, personal savings, and government aid dollars – will be taken into account in reviewing applications to the program,” said Mulligan, who noted that households at or below 300 percent of the Area Median Income for Napa County ($275,000 for a family of four) would be eligible to be considered for financial assistance.

“This will probably be the single largest investment we make to get our community back on its feet,” added Mulligan.

Thus far, the Disaster Relief Fund has supported the provision of immediate relief services like food, temporary shelter, medical care and counseling; cash aid to local workers who were adversely affected by the fires; re-housing services for those displaced by the disaster; financial assistance to local businesses who suffered physical or economic losses; and the operations of the Napa Valley COAD, a group of nonprofit, faith and public sector leaders whose mission is to improve coordination and communication before, during and after disasters like the North Bay wildfires.

In the months ahead, the Disaster Relief Fund plans to make additional investments in workforce development, long term recovery and the future preparedness and resiliency of Napa Valley.

To learn more or download an application, homeowners and renters can visit: https://napavalley.e4erelief.org/Home/Home.aspx. A toll-free help line in English and Spanish is also available between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 844-368-1712; and questions can be emailed to NapaDisasterRelief@e4erelief.org.

The disaster relief fund is managed by NVCF and was established with a $10 million gift from Napa Valley Vintners following the 2014 South Napa Earthquake. After all phases of quake-related relief, recovery and rebuilding programs concluded in 2016, the relief fund had a balance of approximately $2.5 million, which was the starting point for current relief and recovery efforts for the North Bay fires.

Since the fund was re-activated on Oct. 10, 2017, more than $15 million has been contributed by 20,000 individual, corporate and foundation donors in California, the U.S. and abroad.

Growers and vintners in Napa Valley have contributed significantly to assist those affected by the October wildfires, and their generosity has inspired their many friends, customers and partners to get involved, as well. Thus far, $7 million has been distributed from the Fund. These distributions have enabled 15,000 fire survivors to receive relief services like temporary housing, meals and medical care; and 2,000 households who suffered economic hardship as a result of the fires to receive direct cash assistance totaling nearly $2.3 million to date.

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