Unemployed or Out of Business Due to Wildfires? DUA, SBA May Help

Working and self-employed wildfire survivors who lost their jobs or businesses or had their work hours substantially reduced because of the fires may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). In addition, small businesses that are struggling to maintain a reasonable working capital position during the recovery period may be eligible for a low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

DUA is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). The program provides temporary unemployment benefits to survivors whose employment, work-hour losses or losses of business are a direct result of the wildfire disaster and who do not qualify for regular state unemployment insurance benefits.

To be eligible for DUA an applicant must have:

  • Worked in or were scheduled to begin work in Butte, Los Angeles or Ventura county, but were prevented from doing so by the wildfire disaster;
  • Been self-employed in or were scheduled to be self-employment in Butte, Los Angeles or Ventura county, but were prevented from doing so because of the wildfires;
  • Been unable to work because they were injured as a direct result of the wildfires;
  • Become the major support of the household because the head of the household died as a direct result of the wildfires; or
  • Lost most of their income or revenue because the employer or self-employed business was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires.

Qualified applicants may receive assistance of up to $450 per week for a maximum of 27 weeks. DUA applies to losses beginning the week of Nov. 11, 2018.

For more information or to apply, visit EDD at www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/UI_Online_Registration.htm or call 800-300-5616, 8 a.m. to noon (PST), Monday through Friday. The deadline to apply for this benefit is March 15, 2019.

Under SBA’s EIDL program, working capital loans are available to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations of all sizes to meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans of up to $2 million dollars are intended to assist throughout the disaster recovery period if the small business, small agricultural cooperative or private nonprofit organization:

  • Suffered wildfire-related cash flow problems (regardless of physical damage to property);
  • Needs funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact; and
  • Is unable to obtain credit from banks and normal lending channels.

For more information about SBA’s EIDL program, contact the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339. The deadline to apply for the EIDL program is August 12, 2019.

RJ Ghilarducci

RJ Ghilarducci is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). He joined the OES team to aid in 2018's Camp, Woolsey, Hill, and Holy Fire recoveries. He previously served on Governor Gavin Newsom's campaign, worked as a newspaper reporter, and coached Division 1 college football.

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