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California to assist undocumented victims of recent floods

January flooding near King City, California
Ian Abbott
Flickr / Creative Commons
January flooding near King City, California

The money will be available in many affected counties starting in June, according to the state's Department of Social Services.

The announcement comes two months after Gov. Gavin Newsom promised flood victims that help would come from the state's Rapid Response Fund. Since then his office provided few details despite repeated queries and criticism.

Alex Stack, a spokesperson for Newsom, said state officials were trying to ensure the program would be accessible to a population that is often hard to reach, while also protecting taxpayer funds from fraud.

Stack told CalMatters the program is “going to serve folks who might be reticent to take advantage of public benefits for fear of it affecting their immigration status, and this is a population that moves around a lot because of farm work or other issues.”

Eligible households could qualify for up to $4,500 -- each qualifying adult receiving $1,500 and children receiving $500. Stack said a percentage of the $95 million will go to launching and administering the program.

The funds would be available to residents living or working in counties that were federally designated major disaster areas and that were approved for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Applicants for the state funds must show they are not eligible for FEMA assistance but experienced hardship from storms beginning in December 2022 to April 2023.

Originally the Legislature allocated $175 million to that fund for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, to assist with migrants at the Southern California border and to fund other needs. Now state grants are expected to go to nonprofit organizations to provide financial assistance to people recovering from floods or storms, the governor's office said.