Oregon Cities

New state program hopes to help Labor Day 2020 fire victims rebuild


People who lost their homes in the 2020 Labor Day fires could be eligible to receive direct financial help from an Oregon state grant to repair, rebuild or replace their homes.

The 2020 fires ravaged parts of the state from Jackson County to Clackamas County, burning more than 1 million acres of land and destroying thousands of homes. In June, a jury found PacifiCorp liable for causing four of the devastating fires partly by not proactively shutting off the power during periods of high winds.

The Homeowner Assistance and Reconstruction Program will be the first assistance directly to survivors of these fires administered by the Oregon Housing and Community Services, according to a press release from the agency. The program is funded by a $422 million grant for disaster recovery from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Image of a man standing in front of a fire at Gates School on Sept. 7, 2020.

Evidence suggests this fire at Gates School is one of several sparked by power lines on Sept. 7, 2020. A firefighter called 911 to report the fire that started when high winds blew trees into power lines.

Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service / Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service

For people who have managed to rebuild already, state officials said it’s possible they could still be eligible for reimbursement. The assistance is reserved for low- and moderately low-income individuals and families.

The Oregon housing agency will partner with local community-based organizations and start accepting applications in March 2024.

Some of the local community organizations include Glide Revitalization in Douglas County, ACCESS, NOWIA Unete Center for Farmworker Advocacy and Firebrand Resilience Collective in Jackson County; McKenzie Valley Long Term Recovery Group in Lane County; Community Services Consortium in Lincoln County and Santiam Service Integration Team (Santiam Hospital), Linn and Marion counties.

Efforts to rebuild homes destroyed by the fires have been slow and expensive. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reported more than $500 million in spending on wildfire recovery in Oregon, but people are still struggling.

“Every household who lost their home in the Labor Day disaster has struggled to recover — and, unfortunately, many continue to do so,” said Joe Vollmar, chief operations and housing officer at ACCESS community action agency in a written statement. “[This program] is probably the last, best chance that many survivors will have to receive significant assistance. Knowing how hard it has been for Oregonians to work with FEMA and other recovery programs, we appreciate that OHCS is taking the time [to] build a user-friendly system and fund local organizations like ours to help survivors with the application process.”

In order to apply to the program, applicants will need the following information:

  • Proof they owned the damaged or destroyed home, and it was their primary residence.
  • Records of damage from the 2020 Labor Day Disasters.
  • Proof of current income.
  • Record of any insurance or other recovery funds you received.
  • Personal identification (ID) for all household members over the age of 18.

Survivors can stay informed by signing up for email updates and visiting the ReOregon website at re.oregon.gov.


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