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Resources available for undocumented SLO County residents after massive winter storm

Undocusupport is based in The Community Foundation of SLO County's headquarters.
Gabriela Fernandez
Undocusupport is based in The Community Foundation of SLO County's headquarters.

Many SLO County Residents were affected by this month's massive winter storms, including undocumented residents. Now, a local non-profit called Undocusupport is providing county-wide aid for undocumented residents affected by the storms.

They’re granting $21,000 to seven other nonprofits in the area focused on this population.

Undocusupport’s program manager Chelsea Ruiz said most people in this community work in industries like agriculture, service or construction. That means they were hit hard by the storm.

“If the fields are flooded, if the hotels are closed, they can't come to work. A lot of people are not even just living paycheck to paycheck, they're living day to day," Ruiz said.

"To lose one or two days' income will break the bank. There is no safety net for undocumented persons. They don't qualify for unemployment. They don't qualify for this FEMA assistance. And so they're in a really precarious situation.”

Ruiz said this is a community that is already dealing with the high cost of rent, food, healthcare, childcare and unfair working conditions. She said adding a disaster to the list only creates more economic instability for them.

“A lot of them are renting. When these homeowners that have suffered damages from the storm are applying for this FEMA assistance to do the repairs, especially if it's something like mold where it's not safe for people to be in the home. I mean, they could just say okay you need to leave," Ruiz said.

"Where are these people gonna go? There's literally nowhere for them to go. Housing is a huge issue for this community.”

Ruiz said the flooding mostly affected undocumented residents living in Paso Robles, San Miguel, Los Osos, Morro Bay and Oceano.

The grants will be awarded to various nonprofits in the county like, Los Osos Cares, the Center for Family Strengthening, the Paso Robles Housing Authority, SLO’s Community Action Partnership, and more.

“I have these systems in place to deliver these funds and so we give them to them and they really appreciate it because a lot of times in order to access the assistance financial assistance, you have to provide documentation,” Ruiz said.

Undocumented residents affected by the winter storms can visit sloundocusupport.org for more information on where to access financial aid after the storm. There are also countywide resources available online at recoverslo.org.

Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an associate producer on the TahoeLand podcast. When she's not writing or editing news stories, she loves to travel, play tennis and take her 140-lbs dog, Atlas, on long walks by the coast.
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