Residents of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties whose homes or rentals were destroyed or severely damaged by the Thomas Fire and Montecito Debris Flow may be eligible for up to $3,000 in assistance thanks to a disaster assistance program established by the affected region’s three Realtor associations.
Beginning immediately, homeowners and renters left homeless by the debris flow and wildfire may apply for reimbursement of one month’s mortgage or rent payment or $3,000 – whichever is less – from the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, the Ojai Valley Board of Realtors, or the Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors.
The three local associations joined together and received a total of $650,000 from state and national Realtor housing assistance funds – enough to assist more than 200 families, said Matt Capritto, President of the Ventura County association.
Victims can download application forms at www.vcrealtors.com/community-info/thomas-fire.html, www.sbaor.org/membercenter/realtor-disaster-relief-program/ or www.ojaivalleymls.com. Applicants will need to complete an application, provide a copy of their mortgage statement or rental agreement, which both must include contact information for the lender or landlord, and proof of damage to their primary residence. Each of the three AORs will assess applications and hope to disburse all the funds within three months.
None of the funds will go to administration costs – all will be disbursed to victims, said Ojai Valley association president Sharon MaHarry.
Realtors in both counties have been helping victims since the Thomas Fire broke out on Dec. 4. The associations quickly established a public online rental portal which became the top websites to find temporary housing. And in addition, associations and individual Realtors started clothes drives so disaster victims, who lost everything, could get the necessities such as clothes and shoes.
The Realtors’ Relief Foundation, an arm of the National Association of Realtors, contributed $500,000 to the fund. The California Association of Realtors’ Housing Affordability Fund contributed the remaining $150,000.