As a social worker with a local nonprofit preschool, I have relied on the great charities in our community for their safety net. Unfortunately, this latest disaster of wildfires has left many to fall through the cracks. Evacuees certainly should be housed until they get permanent housing. They should get trauma-informed case management as they build back their lives. The Red Cross, Catholic Community Services and others have received funding to help the evacuees. However, if you were homeless prior to the fires, not much is available to help you get out of the smoke.
A case in point: I was trying desperately to find a hotel voucher for a family of five living in their car. I called the county, the city and the established charitable organizations. The emergency funding those agencies receive is earmarked, and this family did not fit the criteria. They’ve been living in their car for nearly four months and now they were subjected to the smoke day and night. Finally, I was guided to contact Community Outreach through Radical Empowerment.
CORE, in collaboration with Occupy Medical and Black Thistle Street Aid, has been raising funds to help the homeless and they had enough funds to put this family in a motel for a week.
I urge people, when they are in a position to make donations, to think of these small grassroots organizations. They reach those who are being left behind.
Eva Chava Kronen