Center for Community Resilience Brings Hope to Fire Survivors
Written by: Gracie Solis
ACCESS is the Community Action Agency and Regional Food Bank of Jackson County. The ACCESS mission is to provide food, warmth, and shelter to low-income children, families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities.
After the devastating 2020 Jackson County wildfires, the needs across our community changed. In less than 24 hours, thousands were left with nothing. More than 3,000 housing units and 18 manufactured home parks were nearly destroyed, leaving many without insurance, and unsure of their next steps. Fast forward two years later, and hundreds are still living in hotels or temporary housing situations.
ACCESS saw a need to support Almeda and Obenchain wildfire survivors in their ongoing transition back into permanent housing. This need inspired the Center for Community Resilience (CCR), a place where those impacted by the fires could seek guidance pertaining to their specific housing needs. The CCR serves as a hub that helps counsel survivors through their housing journey from start to finish. To date, the CCR has provided over $1 million dollars toward homeownership and more than $1.5 million in rental assistance for fire survivors in the Rogue Valley.
CCR participant, Jo Ann lost her home in the 2020 Almeda Fire. A year and a half ago, Jo Ann purchased a new manufactured home using insurance and FEMA funding. There was an extensive wait for the house to be completed. On June 7, 2022, she was referred to ACCESS’ new Repair and Infrastructure Program. The program was born after The Wildfire Recovery and Resilience Account (WRRA) updated its guidelines to include infrastructure-only projects. As part of the Center for Community Resilience, Housing Engagement Specialist Will Emond assisted Jo Ann in receiving WRRA funding to pay for her infrastructure costs. On August 5, 2022, Jo Ann’s new home was delivered and now the final steps of infrastructure can begin, bringing Jo Ann another step closer to starting her life in her brand-new home. “I so appreciate your efforts to help me make my fire recovery journey successful. I’m really looking forward to making it a real home,” wrote Jo Ann on the day her home was delivered.
Since the CCR opened its doors in the fall of 2021, it has served over 350 households with a total of 912 family members. The program currently provides $350,000 in financial assistance every month to help stabilize 331 Housed Families. This helps to ensure each family moves through their fire recovery process as smoothly as possible. The CCR also provides referrals to partner agencies for non-housing-related support such as transportation, healthcare, financial, and disability services.
The CCR is committed to building supportive community relationships in order to further serve disaster survivors in our communities in the long term. This includes fostering relationships with our landlords and property managers. We offer generous lLandlord iIncentives for those who partner with us.
If you would like to help, or you are a 2020 fire survivor looking for assistance in your next steps please call (541)414-0318 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author: Gracie Solis
Gracie is the Marketing and Communications Supervisor for ACCESS. With a BA in Journalism and Communications from the University of Oregon, she spent four years in the Rogue Valley working in local journalism before transitioning to her role at ACCESS. Gracie loves living in Southern Oregon and enjoying all the area has to offer.