FEMA installed around 180 trailers after the devastating 2020 fires. The temporary housing was planned to be removed on March 15, so Oregon lawmakers applied for an extension. When that was approved, it came with a catch. Residents got letters a week and a half ago telling them that they would be expected to pay market-rate rent.
“For a two-bedroom, it’s about $1,100. It’s more like $1,700 for a three-bedroom,” says Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland. “So it’s caused a tremendous amount of alarm and anxiety and sort of retraumatization among residents.”
Marsh says residents should begin an application for FEMA subsidies, which are priced according to individuals’ income.
“People who are at 50% of median income can get their rent decreased to as little as $50 a month,” says Marsh. “Which, I think we’d all agree, is probably manageable for everybody.”
Financial assistance is also being offered by the Medford nonprofit, ACCESS.
In January 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency installed a number of manufactured homes in Mill City following last year's Santiam Canyon wildfire. The agency installed similar units in Jackson County.
A bill moving through the Oregon legislature could expand locations where prefabricated and manufactured homes can be sited in the state, and provide financial relief for those who have lost such homes in wildfires.
The U.S. Forest Service in Oregon will be getting more than $262 million in federal disaster funding to help with wildfire recovery.
Housing, water pollution and mental health are just a few concerns from survivors of the Santiam Fire, according to a recent Oregon State University study. Researchers conducted in-person interviews and collected anonymous survey results to understand what survivors were facing. We’ll hear from Sandi Phibbs, the evaluation and research manager at OSU Center for Health and Innovation, on the results of the study. We’ll also hear from Gates Mayor Ron Carmickle on how fires affected his own community.