The newly formed NGO’s Supporting Uninsured, Underinsured Recovery group, better known as NSUUR, brought an idea to the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee to try and help the uninsured and underinsured rebuild.
The idea is to gather organizations across the region to join together and help these property owners with financial assistance troubles.
“The concept here is to assemble a group of organizations to assist in a low cost rebuild and repair of their homes combined with other forms of support such as financial assistance and donated labour,” said Greg Elsasser, Acting President/CEO
Wood Buffalo Housing & Development Corporation.
Groups that are already on board include: NSUUR Group, which is a combination of Habitat for Humanity, Mennonite Disaster, World Renew, Samaratin’s Purse and Fuse Social, with the Canadian Red Cross, Wood Buffalo Housing & Development, Money Mentors, Bankers & Mortgage Insurers and Local Builders also on board.
Some solutions they see benefiting these property owners are possibly renting to own, bank financing, getting a second mortgage or filing for bankruptcy.
They’ve already thought of certain criteria that each property owner would have to meet, this needing to be discussed at a committee level before official, such as being a homeowner before the wildfire, having equity in their home, must intend on staying or returning in the community and must contribute to the recovery.
“Participants must contribute to their own recovery so this isn’t a freebie, it’s a handout, it’s not a gift and they will be expected to participate,” said Elsasser.
Now the group brought this information to the WBRC for a purpose of asking for some specific requests. This includes help getting a couple of staff, with a project coordinator and administrator in mind, office space and storage facilities as well as the committee’s support in a awareness campaign to get the message out.
They are in the process of filing a application to get additional funding from the Canadian Red Cross and United Way.
However, Committee member Marty Giles is concerned that a project of this magnitude would need more than just “a guy.”
“Our initial thought behind the two people that we were asking for is just to do the coordination of the initial prepare work which is the quick easy hit,” said Elsasser. “Once we understand what the needs are we can develop a program, we can cost it out.”
Right now finding all the needed information is becoming a struggle for the group, with the awareness campaign they could find the information they need to help answer questions and get rebuilds and repairs underway for these property owners.
“Right now, we understand that there’s about 300 families that might fit in this category but that’s about the extent of the information we have, we don’t have any good data to build any good programs with and that’s kind of our key component of trying to set up to help people,” said Elsasser.
Now this was just a chance to let the committee know of their intentions to work together, it did however, leave a positive impact on the members.
“A very interesting and much needed solution for our community and I think we’ve all heard some of the heartbreaking stories,” said Jeanette Bancarz, Chair of the WBRC.
So far, a half a dozen homeowners have come forward asking for help with their rebuild with two coming forward asking for help for their repair work.
If residents have questions or concerns about their rebuild, the next information session will be solely talking about help for uninsured and underinsured.
“Really having those conversations with people about the type of help that they need so that we can give them an answer sooner rather than later as whether our program will help them, if there are other programs that may be able to help them or if they have to start looking at other options, they really need to be making decisions fairly quickly,” said Chrystal Lewis-Wilton, Executive Director of the Habitat for Humanity Wood Buffalo.
The information session will be at Shell Place from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. and will feature members from NSUUR.