A month after the U.S. Forest Service announced an end to the Thomas Fire, a California wildfire that scorched 281,893 acres of land in Southern California, the Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors, the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors and the Ojai Valley Board of Realtors have begun distributing $ 290,000 in aid to 200 families who lost their homes.
The associations received the $ 290,000 from the California Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Fund and the National Association of Realtors’ Realtor’s Relief Foundation, which had $ 650,000 in available funds for wildfire victims.
VCCAR, SBAR, and OVBR began distributing checks in July and said families will receive as much as $ 3,000 to help cover one month’s rent or mortgage payments, according to a report by the Ventura County Star.
“Every little bit counts, and a lot of these people either did not have insurance or got very small stipends from some organizations,” VCCAR Board of Directors member Sher Heard told the Star. “There were little bits coming in here and there, but this was a way to help pay a whole month (of rent) that you did not need to worry about.”
Victims in Ventura and Santa Paula received $ 160,000 in aid, while fire victims in the Ojai area received about $ 16,000, according to a press release by VCCAR. People affected by the Thomas Fire and the Montecito Debris Flow in Santa Barbara County have received about $ 113,000.
VCCAR President Matt Capritto told Inman that he’s proud of the work the associations have done, but that much more is needed to fulfill the demand.
“The need far surpassed our expectations, and the word has gotten out because realtors have hit the ground and talked to so many people,” he said, noting that it would take at least $ 460,000 to help the 540 Ventura residents who lost their homes.
Capritto says the associations are planning to request more funds so they can help more victims, but in the meantime, they’re using their influence to educate residents about having adequate home insurance.