In November 2021, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it was awarding Oregon $422 million in
Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds for recovery efforts in response to the 2020 Labor Day Fires. Administered by Oregon Housing and Community Services, this money will pay for new programs to help individuals, households, and communities continue to recover. This effort, which is called ReOregon, will provide new permanent housing in the areas most impacted by the fires.
Assistance available now for wildfire recovery
On Sept. 30, HUD approved Oregon Housing and Community Services' ReOregon Action Plan, which describes how the state will spend the $422 million of federal funding to support recovery from the 2020 Labor Day Fires in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion counties. The goal of the program is that all fire-impacted individuals and households have equitable access to the resources necessary to be housed safely, sustainably, permanently, affordably and in their housing of choice.
The plan was written with an explicit concern for—and implementation will be guided by—the particular needs of the many members of the Latino/a/x community of Jackson County who have suffered many of the greatest impacts of this disaster and face particular hurdles in recovery. There are no citizenship or residency requirements and OHCS will seek opportunities to partner with (and fund) culturally specific, community-based organizations to support survivors through application and recovery processes.
The core elements of the plan, which were refined through extensive public engagement in fire-impacted areas in May 2022, are:
- A housing replacement program for homeowners who lost homes to the fires.
- A new homeownership program for fire survivors who were renters and displaced by the fires.
- A fund to support local priority projects to build new infrastructure, carry out mitigation activities to prepare for future disasters, or support economic revitalization.
Other ReOregon programs include intermediate housing assistance, housing recovery services, and recovery planning. No less than 15% of program funds must be spent on mitigation activities, such as building homes that are resistant to fire or other natural disasters.
The federal government appropriated funds to Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) in Fall 2021. The rules establishing the requirements to receive funding were not published until February 2022. OHCS will implement programs as soon as possible but will likely not be ready to accept and approve formal applications until the first half of 2023.
Housing Replacement and New Homeownership
The housing replacement program will provide new homes or help survivors complete rebuilding. At this time, the program does not include any benefits for survivors who have completed their reconstruction. If sufficient funds are available, a reimbursement program could be added in a future plan amendment.
The Homeowner Assistance and Reconstruction Program (HARP) will launch early next year. The first phase of HARP will be open to fire survivors who are low or moderate income and have not yet completed their recovery, i.e., do not yet have a permanent, safe home. Low or moderate income is defined by annual household income, adjusted for household size.
For example, a two-person household earning $58,150 or less would qualify for phase one.
Fiscal Year 2022 Low- and Moderate-Income Limit (80% of median)
|1 Person ||2 Person ||3 Person ||4 Person ||5 Person ||6 Person ||7 Person ||8 Person |
|50,850 ||58,150 ||65,400 ||72,650 ||78,500 ||84,300 ||90,100 ||95,950 |
For eligible survivors who have not started rebuilding, OHCS will provide new manufactured or modular homes to replace lost homes. The size of the replacement home will be based on the size of the home that was destroyed and, in some cases, by need based on number of individuals in the household. For homeowners who have already started to rebuild or have already made a substantial down payment toward the purchase of a new manufactured home, the HARP program can help fund remaining costs. Survivors will contribute any insurance or FEMA structural damage payment, or other benefits received for permanent housing recovery, to the project.
Survivors should take several steps this fall to make sure they are ready to apply for ReOregon benefits:
- Connect with a disaster case manager (DCM). A DCM provides a case management approach with a defined plan and recovery goals that identify unmet needs. They work toward those recovery goals with the survivor and provide services such as referrals for housing navigation, employment training and procurement, family stabilization resources and mental/behavioral health connections. If survivors aren't currently connected to a DCM, they should call the DCM hotline at 833-669-0554.
- Housing navigators are the best point of contact for housing recovery issues, including help with finding a new rental or accessing financial assistance to help rebuild or replace the home. Find a local housing navigator in the “Assistance Available Now" section below.
- Collect the documents that survivors will need to apply:
- Evidence of fire impact (type of home, proof of loss, household size)
- Income and bank statements (survivors will need their most recent documents at the time of application)
- Record of any other benefits or recovery supports received, including insurance payments.
- Photo ID for all household members over the age of 18.
- Sign up for (bilingual) email updates at the bottom of the page.
The new homeownership program will fund the development of affordable opportunities for former renters to buy a home. OHCS will partner with nonprofit developers and others to build new housing. When developing new “parks,” the program will focus on quality construction (ideally, modular units as opposed to manufactured homes) and cooperative or other land ownership models that ensure long-term affordable space rents.
Both housing programs will be opened first to applications for low- and moderate-income fire survivors. ReOregon as a whole must devote at least 70% of program funds to benefit low- and moderate-income survivors.
Survivor Support Services
The Action Plan has funds for services such as rent support, housing navigation, legal assistance, and case management. These services are currently available through housing navigators, but the funding for these activities is likely to expire before the need is completely met.
Planning Infrastructure and Economic Revitalization (PIER)
OHCS, with input from the impacted counties, will suballocate PIER funding by county. Local governments and other key recovery stakeholders (such as the long-term recovery groups and economic development districts) will be asked to select and define the priority projects to receive these funds.
The Action Plan was developed with extensive public involvement both prior to and after publishing a draft. OHCS held dozens of meetings with fire-impacted communities, collected over 300 responses to an online survey; and received 170 formal comments on the published draft. The agency made several major changes to the plan in response to these comments, including the addition of economic revitalization and the decision to pursue the use of the statewide income standards for determining low and moderate income.
Any future substantial amendments to the Action Plan would require another formal public comment period.
This website will contain information about how to apply for programs as they become available. To receive email updates, please sign up.