Wildfire Housing FAQ’s

California’s wildfires have resulted in a major housing crisis in affected areas, and state, federal, and local officials have been working diligently to find solutions for all seeking help. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and partner agencies have formed a State-led Joint Housing Task Force to explore wide ranging options to meet the temporary, short-term, intermediate and long-term housing needs of those affected by the wildfires.

What housing options are available for survivors?

Emergency Shelters

  • Shelters run by the American Red Cross and other volunteer organizations provide safe housing and support services for hundreds of survivors. Individuals who need emergency shelter may text 43362 to find a location or visit wildfirerecovery.org.

FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program (TSA)

  • TSA allows survivors to utilize rooms at participating hotels and motels as a short-term sheltering solution until an intermediate or long-term housing solution is available.
  • Eligible survivors are responsible for all other costs associated with lodging and amenities, including, but not limited to, incidental room charges, such as telephone, room service, food, etc.
  • To determine their eligibility for the TSA program, survivors must register with FEMA by visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov or calling (800) 621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585) between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

FEMA Rental Assistance

  • FEMA may provide grants to eligible applicants to help survivors pay for temporary housing, such as renting a place to live temporarily.
  • Rental assistance can be used for renting an apartment, house, travel trailer or staying at a hotel, bed and breakfast or Airbnb.
  • Expedited rental assistance is available for survivors in Butte County who are unable to return to their home or have destroyed homes.
  • Eligible survivors can receive up to one month’s rental assistance based on the fair market rate.

FEMA Direct Housing

  • These may include placing manufactured housing units (MHUs) and recreational vehicles (RVs) in existing commercial parks, campgrounds or pre-existing pads that have direct access to utilities; placing MHUs and RVs on private property where codes, conditions and support.

Airbnb

  • Airbnb’s Open Homes program is available to survivors through December 14, 2018. This program allows hosts to open their homes, free of charge, to displaced survivors and relief workers deployed to help in response.
  • Airbnb says about 2,200 free accommodations are available in the affected areas. To find free living quarters, survivors first must create an Airbnb account or log into your existing account at airbnb.com.

How many people does FEMA expect it will need to house? 

The Joint Housing Task Force is working with initial assessments that as many as 2,000 households may need help finding intermediate or long-term housing. That estimate does not mean FEMA will set up 2,000 MHUs and RVs since there are a variety of direct housing options. FEMA is staging MHUs and RVs in Northern California, so they can be moved and installed more quickly when available locations with infrastructure match survivor needs.

Have families already begun moving into any housing units?

Several households have been identified to move into recreational vehicles that were used from Northern California wildfire disaster in 2017. More households will begin moving into temporary housing once feasible housing sites are approved.

Where does FEMA manufacture its trailers and recreational vehicles?

FEMA does NOT manufacture housing units. FEMA purchases MHUs and RVs from vendors. These housing units meet all state and other local codes and regulations.

How can survivors apply for the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program?

To be considered for eligibility, disaster survivors must first register with FEMA at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling the FEMA Helpline at (800) 621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585) between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

  • Pass identity and U.S. residency status verification;
  • Pre-disaster primary residence is in a geographic area that is designated for TSA and occupancy is verified;
  • Because of the wildfires, they are displaced from their pre-disaster primary residence, and
  • They are unable to obtain lodging through another source.
  • List of FEMA-approved TSA lodging is available at Femaevachotels.com/.

How many hotels are participating in the TSA program in California?  In Butte County?

As of December 5, 2018, there were approximately 800 hotels or motels participating in the state of California, with three hotels participating in Butte County.  The number of participating hotels changes daily as more hotels choose to participate in the program.

If you have any tips or ideas on possible housing resources or locations, please email fema-housing-solutions@fema.dhs.gov.

For more information on recovery efforts and updates, please visit buttecountyrecovers.org/

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 Gavin Newsom's gubernatorial campaign, worked as a newspaper reporter, and coached Division 1 college football.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: