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The Camp Fire anniversary: a day of remembrance and hope

One of the wonderful individuals who we were able to help move into stable housing after they lost their home in the Camp Fire.

On this 4th anniversary of the Camp Fire, CHAT would like to celebrate the resilience of those impacted by the Camp Fire and the successes that our CHAMP program has had in assisting Camp Fire survivors with finding permanent housing. At the same time, we would like to acknowledge the incredible need that remains for the many survivors who have yet to find permanent housing or any sense of stability that they once had.

Our CHAMP program is a landlord incentive program that began in January 2020 and has funding to continue through May 2023. The program assists Camp Fire survivors with obtaining affordable, permanent housing through both landlord incentives such as a $500 signing bonus and a $4,000 damage reimbursement fund, and the payment of rental application fees, first month’s rent, security deposit, and potential rental assistance, among other things. The program also provides case management and mediation services when needed, for the first year of the tenancy.

More than two years into the program, CHAMP continues to assist clients in their housing recovery goals, although it is getting harder and harder with the continued housing crisis, rising inflation and our community’s lack of affordable housing. It’s important to remember that the Camp Fire destroyed more than 13,000 housing units in less than a 48-hour period. In the last four years, just over 10% of that loss has been restored with new houses.

Equally important to note is that of those 13,000 units lost, one third were reported as being mobile homes in mobile home parks or units in multi-unit dwellings. Many of these destroyed units housed senior citizens and people living with disabilities with limited, fixed incomes from Social Security and disability benefits. As noted above, four years within the current housing crisis to accommodate the housing needs of a community’s most vulnerable population is hardly any time at all.

Despite these challenges, the CHAMP program has assisted 128 households (151 adults and 66 children) with obtaining and remaining in stable housing in the form of application fees, move-in costs, landlord incentives, rental assistance, and case management services. But even after assisting this many people, there are still over 300 households requesting help from the CHAMP program who are without stable, affordable housing. We are asking members of our community with rental properties to consider working with the CHAMP program and renting to Camp Fire survivors, most of whom are individuals who just need someone to give them a place to start in their post-disaster recovery. Please contact the CHAMP program at (530) 399-3962 if you would like additional information about the program and the available landlord incentives.

Funding for the CHAMP program was generously provided by the California Community Foundation, United Way of Northern California, GlobalGiving, and the North Valley Community Foundation’s Butte Strong Fund.

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