Local wildfire makes many homeless overnight

19 Replies

The town a few miles north of me (Santa Rosa, CA) was devastated last night by a sudden wildfire.

Thousands of people are homeless.

Is there a way to help these folks have a place to rent as they wait for their homes to be repaired?

How would you help?

I'd like to tap into this talented, creative community and find a solution to help my neighbors.

Any thoughts?

The Red Cross is always pretty on top of these sorts of things. Red Cross Volunteer Connection

If President Trump declares parts of Sonoma / Napa to be a disaster area, 203(h) financing will become available. Cousin of 203(k) that everyone knows about. 100% financing to rebuild. HUD.gov 203(h) website

Edit: Came across this, too. AirBnB Open Homes. @J. Martin your wheelhouse. I'm going to pay to run a facebook ad on it, on AirBnB's behalf.

Well I'm in it. Had to evacuate. Don't know what the outcome is yet but I have heard that my house has been spared so far. Many many homes and businessses burned down. I do wonder what this will do to property values in the immediate?

Originally posted by @Jenelle Harris :

Well I'm in it. Had to evacuate. Don't know what the outcome is yet but I have heard that my house has been spared so far. Many many homes and businessses burned down. I do wonder what this will do to property values in the immediate?

Sorry to hear about that Jenelle. I hope you are able to return to your home soon. Sounds like the fires are still not contained. Let me know if I can help in any way. I expect the property prices will rebound, since Santa Rosa has low unemployment and job growth is projected to increase a lot in the coming years.

Thank you @Mark Oliver

I'm still trying to figure out if and when I can return.  I hope soon.  

I actually do not own in SR yet, so it has made me wonder....

Fingers crossed for you, @Jenelle Harris .  Looks like most areas south of Piner on the west side did pretty well and south of Chanate on the east side. North of that is all blocked off and I couldn't get to those areas this afternoon.  

So far I'm lucky--yesterday morning I could see fire on three sides of me, almost as far as the eye can see.  Explosions all around me every few seconds.  It was like a war zone. I was watching houses burn from my back yard but luckily the wind died before the fire got to me. My office is across the street from the Hilton hotel, which was leveled but my office is miraculously still standing. But so many were far less fortunate and the fire is still completely un-contained.  

My guess is that property values will be fine, probably go up as displaced folks look for other homes. There were very few on the market before and even fewer now.  Sadly, I suspect there will be quite a few lots on the market--which is in complete contrast to the past decade when there have been almost none. 

So many people will be out of work--the K-Mart, Trader Joe's, two or three hotels and several restaurants along with several other businesses are leveled. But unemployment here is nearly zero so most of those folks will be able to find other jobs. 

We were already in the midst of a housing crisis and this will make it far worse. The opportunity will be for contractors. This town won't be able to rebuild these houses fast enough and there is a shortage of contractors here. 

@J. Martin  do you think you can go put the word out about the airbnb free housing for victims thing? You're the networking wizard! I just shared it with you on facebook.

@Chris Mason is the 203(h) financing available for rental properties?

We have a rental in Larkfield area of Santa Rosa, Fire is very close at the moment. We live in St Helena, but left yesterday to escape the smoke.

Originally posted by @Chris Mason :

@J. Martin do you think you can go put the word out about the airbnb free housing for victims thing? You're the networking wizard! I just shared it with you on facebook.

 Chris,

Just posted on my FB page. Crazy how large this one was. Glad most folks are OK, including @Brian Burke@Jenifer Levini , not sure if your house is OK. But highly in need right now.. 

Originally posted by @J. Martin :
Originally posted by @Chris Mason:

@J. Martin do you think you can go put the word out about the airbnb free housing for victims thing? You're the networking wizard! I just shared it with you on facebook.

 Chris,

Just posted on my FB page. Crazy how large this one was. Glad most folks are OK, including @Brian Burke@Jenifer Levini , not sure if your house is OK. But highly in need right now.. 

 True story. But I don't think the 8.5 month pregnant wife is ready to play host at present, alas. :\

Thank you for sharing it and putting the word out!

Originally posted by @Rachel Bier :

Chris Mason is the 203(h) financing available for rental properties?

We have a rental in Larkfield area of Santa Rosa, Fire is very close at the moment. We live in St Helena, but left yesterday to escape the smoke.

Honestly will be my first major local disaster since I've been licensed. I doubt it, since it's FHA, but I don't know.

FNMA HomeStyle is a reno program for SFR investments, though.

I just sold my rental property in SR in August. It was in west SR in the evac zone, though unharmed. I too wonder what this is going to do to real estate prices in the area. Housing is already very tight there. 

Hi Everyone -

Sorry to be jumping into this post so late in the game.  I'm also in Santa Rosa and was evacuated due to the fires and while the house was thankfully undamaged, I've been thinking about Mark Oliver's question quite a bit.  With roughly 6% of the housing inventory gone and approximately 100,000 people displaced for likely quite some time, I've been thinking about how we could potentially tap into this incredibly community to help those in need.  Two thoughts have come to mind that I've started to pursue:

1.  Tapping into our own and our networks' expertise, consider holding seminar(s), online and/or in person to provide information on things like:

-  involving our favorite real estate agents to give people general guidance on:

-  where/how to find long-term temporary housing or purchase a new home, and what they can do with lots they may not want to rebuild on

-  how to know what fair market value is right now for purchases

-  providing guidance on how to watch out for the scavengers that may surface.  A lot of people displaced possibly haven't purchased a home in decades and won't know what to look out for or how to find reputable people to work with.

-  providing guidance on financing options available to them 

-  possibly getting someone from the Building Department to let people know what the permitting requirements and timing might look like as the community works through this

2.  Reaching out to our preferred vendors to see if/how they might be interested in getting involved.  Insurance companies and organizations like the Red Cross will certainly provide a great deal of support, but likely any coverage they bring won't cover everything (e.g. flooring, fixtures, other finishes, etc.).  

I'd certainly welcome everyone's thoughts.  If either of these initiatives are something you'd like to get involved with, please let me know.  Any help in getting this off the ground would be terrific!

Originally posted by @Lisa Barnes :

Hi Everyone -

Sorry to be jumping into this post so late in the game.  I'm also in Santa Rosa and was evacuated due to the fires and while the house was thankfully undamaged, I've been thinking about Mark Oliver's question quite a bit.  With roughly 6% of the housing inventory gone and approximately 100,000 people displaced for likely quite some time, I've been thinking about how we could potentially tap into this incredibly community to help those in need.  Two thoughts have come to mind that I've started to pursue:

1.  Tapping into our own and our networks' expertise, consider holding seminar(s), online and/or in person to provide information on things like:

-  involving our favorite real estate agents to give people general guidance on:

-  where/how to find long-term temporary housing or purchase a new home, and what they can do with lots they may not want to rebuild on

-  how to know what fair market value is right now for purchases

-  providing guidance on how to watch out for the scavengers that may surface.  A lot of people displaced possibly haven't purchased a home in decades and won't know what to look out for or how to find reputable people to work with.

-  providing guidance on financing options available to them 

-  possibly getting someone from the Building Department to let people know what the permitting requirements and timing might look like as the community works through this

2.  Reaching out to our preferred vendors to see if/how they might be interested in getting involved.  Insurance companies and organizations like the Red Cross will certainly provide a great deal of support, but likely any coverage they bring won't cover everything (e.g. flooring, fixtures, other finishes, etc.).  

I'd certainly welcome everyone's thoughts.  If either of these initiatives are something you'd like to get involved with, please let me know.  Any help in getting this off the ground would be terrific!

Thanks so much for posting this Lisa! 

This is why I started this post - so the biggerpockets community could help out directly. 

I think you've got some really great ideas here, and I hope others in the community might be able to come up with some solutions.

Yes, the Red Cross and others will obviously help victims in the short term, and provide some initial relief, but there needs to be help provided for the long term.

I imagine trying to navigate insurance companies, and knowing your rights (regarding insurance contracts) might be helpful for some folks.

We have clients in Southern California with rental properties lost in the fires in Santa Rosa and Napa.  I just returned from Santa Rosa after spending a significant amount of time with the Sonoma County Permit & Resource Management Dept.  We also attended the Debris Removal press conference on Monday.  There is a lot up in the air with the debris removal process from EPA, Army Corps of Engineers and Opt-In/Opt-Out process.  

They anticipated all the cleanup (if you opt-in with the county) to be completed by Spring 2018.  That is a significant amount of time lost.  Especially since there is only a 12-month period for Loss of Rents or Additional Living Expenses covered under your insurance policies.  

Many owners were under-insured and will have difficulty completing the repairs within their policy limits (even with 125% RCV & additional coverages).  That is why we fly up to see how we can assist. I agree with @Lisa Barnes on pooling our resources to assist.  Count me in!  

Hi Mark/Matt/Jose -

Thanks so much for your posts.

@Jose Linares, thanks so much for your willingness to help!  I've locked in some of the experts to speak to the community, and hope to have the rest of them and the venue and date confirmed in the next few days.  I'll reach out to you separately to get you involved.

@Brandon Turner - In case you haven't been following this post, I'm organizing a free seminar for people in the Northern California community who have lost their homes or investment properties in the wildfires. Real estate professionals will also be encouraged to attend to get advice from the experts on how they can best advise their clients. The experts involved will be a real estate agent, a lender, a real estate attorney, an insurance representative, and hopefully someone from the Building Permit Department and a representative from FEMA. If I can find someone to record the session, would it be possible to host it online on Bigger Pockets so it's accessible afterwards?

Thanks, everyone, for your help and great ideas!

This post has been removed.

Hi Everyone -

By way of update, I'm working on another project to benefit wildfire victims and first responders, called Unsung Heroes of the Wine Country Wildfires, that involves collecting inspirational stories from the fires.  There's more to the project, but apparently I'm not permitted to post the details here as it's considered self-promotion.  Instead, I've posted the details to the Marketplace under the heading:

Project to Benefit CA Wildfire Victims and First Responders

Please check it out in the marketplace, or send me a message and I'd be happy to provide further details. @Chris Mason , @J. Martin , and @Brian Burke - I know you, in particular, have large local networks. If you wouldn't mind taking a look at the project in the Marketplace and spreading the word on the project, it would be really helpful.

The seminar referenced earlier is still in the planning stages, but will possibly be held next week.  I'll let you know once it's confirmed, but in the meantime, thanks so much @Jose Linares for all of your help with it!

Originally posted by @Lisa Barnes :

Hi Everyone -

By way of update, I'm working on another project to benefit wildfire victims and first responders, called Unsung Heroes of the Wine Country Wildfires, that involves collecting inspirational stories from the fires.  There's more to the project, but apparently I'm not permitted to post the details here as it's considered self-promotion.  Instead, I've posted the details to the Marketplace under the heading:

Project to Benefit CA Wildfire Victims and First Responders

Please check it out in the marketplace, or send me a message and I'd be happy to provide further details. @Chris Mason , @J. Martin, and @Brian Burke - I know you, in particular, have large local networks. If you wouldn't mind taking a look at the project in the Marketplace and spreading the word on the project, it would be really helpful.

The seminar referenced earlier is still in the planning stages, but will possibly be held next week.  I'll let you know once it's confirmed, but in the meantime, thanks so much @Jose Linares for all of your help with it!

 Way to give back Lisa Barnes :) 

I'm happy to get the word out. Just tagged you in your post on the marketplace. 
I'm in Asia until about April, but can get ahold of some locals. Michael Morengello (sp?) is probably the best person to get involved with it, because he runs a meetup over in Marin, and is very well connected in the North Bay (my people are mostly in East & South Bay). But will do what I can :) @Bill Bockwoldt , @Adam Menconi , @Jenifer Levini

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