A new organization announced this week it has raised $370,000 to aid undocumented Santa Barbara and Ventura residents who lost homes or wages amid the recent natural disasters.
Activists with 805 Undocufund said the group has provided $143,000 to those who lost work, mainly as farmworkers or housekeepers, since the Thomas Fire broke out more than 12 weeks ago.
“Hundreds of families remain on our waitlist,” said Lucas Zucker of CAUSE (Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy). He estimated thousands of impacted area residents are excluded from receiving federally funded assistance. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) provides up to $35,000 to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
They plan to raise $1 million to assist everyone on the current waitlist.
So far, grant amounts have ranged from $500 to $3,000 based on financial need. Funders include Annenberg Foundation, Direct Relief International, Santa Barbara Foundation, and others. Other donors have covered administrative costs, allowing 100 percent of new donations to go to families, the group said.
“Immigrant families face other barriers to seeking assistance including lack of familiarity with official institutions, fear of government agencies, and limited English proficiency,” Zucker said.