Sonoma County foundation gives $500,000 more for wildfire-recovery help with insurance, law

A Sonoma County nonprofit has announced nearly $500,000 in grants to two area organizations specifically to help victims of the October wildfires deal with the legal and insurance issues related to recovery.
Community Foundation Sonoma County said the funding comes through its Sonoma County Resilience Fund. It was established in October 2017 to support long-term fire recovery with grant making planned through 2022 and beyond. Grants from the fund will fall into three focus areas: helping individuals impacted by the fires, healing the long-term impacts of trauma and housing solutions for our community, according to the foundation.
One of the grants announced Thursday will give $220,000 to United Policyholders to help individuals impacted by the fires who are struggling with insurance claims, legal issues, and securing the resources they need to recover. That nonprofit focuses on disaster recovery issues and insurance. The 26-year-old old group plans to use the grants to pilot an insurance dispute mediation option for under insured people.
“Successful disaster recovery is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Amy Bach, Esq., executive director, United Policyholders. “On behalf of the thousands of wildfire-impacted households our organization is serving through our Roadmap to Recovery program, we are deeply grateful to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund and the Community Foundation of Sonoma County for this support and vision. Thank you for understanding that these households will need us well into the third anniversary of the fire and for making it possible for us to stay the course.”
In addition, the Community Foundation announced at $250,000 grant to Legal Aid of Sonoma County.
That money will support the Disaster Law Program to provide legal information and advocacy to those affected by the 2017 wildfires. Assistance will include help with insurance, Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance, housing, contractors, consumer fraud and legal services that support mental health. Services will include outreach, clinics, document preparation, negotiations, and individual representation, the foundation stated.
“With thousands of survivors still grappling with FEMA, trying to get the insurance proceeds they deserve or dealing with legal issues surrounding their fire-affected housing, Legal Aid needs to be here for the long haul to help survivors recover,” said Ronit Rubinoff, executive director, Legal Aid of Sonoma County. “We are both thrilled and relieved to have the support of the Resilience Fund to support our community’s recovery.”
The foundation stated that the Resilience Fund has raised over $14 million for long-term recovery. More than 70 percent of the donations to the fund have come from outside of Sonoma County.
“Our foundation is committed to supporting fire recovery in Sonoma County for years to come and we are so proud to support these two excellent organizations in their work to help people who are facing overwhelming challenges,” said Elizabeth Brown, president and CEO, CFSC.
Last month, basketball superstar Stephen Curry and his wife, Ayesha, donated the $25,000 they received for winning ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud to the foundation’s relief fund.