$1B wildfire relief fund has distributed $0 to affected homeowners

Bureaucratic delays at state, federal levels mean victims — including renters — are still waiting on the approved money

Los Angeles /
Dec.December 02, 2020 08:45 AM
HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Gov. Gavin Newsom (Getty)
HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Gov. Gavin Newsom (Getty)

California received more than $1.3 billion in federal wildfire aid to help with widespread damage, but affected homeowners haven’t received any of the money.

Bureaucratic delays have held up distribution, as California officials drew up spending plans and the federal government reviewed them, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It took two years for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to completely sign off on $300 million in relief funds for 2017 fires, and only last week HUD signed off on $1 billion in aid for 2018 wildfires.

That money is meant to go toward building new housing for low-income renters, along with rebuilding people’s homes and infrastructure repairs. Another planning and review process is expected to start if the federal government signs off on further aid in response to damage caused from this year’s wildfires.

In early 2018, HUD determined that California’s housing department failed to properly monitor how it issued funding for development projects. But HUD officials also admitted that internal oversight issues delayed the approval of disaster relief funding.

The delays have left some people living in limbo.

Linda Adrain’s Santa Rosa home was burned down in the Tubbs fire in 2017, so she moved into a small apartment, according to the Times. Not long after, the now-80-year-old heard about plans to build a complex for low-income seniors on the former mobile home park where she lived.

She signed up for a unit, but the developers couldn’t break ground until they received funding from the federal government and still haven’t broken ground. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch


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