Federal aid still available to California freeze victims

Californians affected by the January 2007 freeze qualify for a variety of federal disaster assistance programs. Those who lost work because of the freeze in federally declared counties may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). The declaration also authorizes federal food commodity assistance in 15 of the declared counties. Disaster loans are available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

There are three ways to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance through the California Employment Development Department, which administers DUA at the state level. Residents can apply on-line through www.edd.ca.gov/eapply4ui . They can also download and send in a written application available through www.edd.ca.gov/uirep/de1101dua.pdf. They can also call toll-free 1-800-300-5616 for English, 1-800-326-8937 for Spanish, or TTY (non voice) 1-800-815-9387.

DUA is available for individuals affected by the freeze who work, were scheduled to work, or reside in Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Merced, Monterey, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura counties.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance provides temporary financial benefits to jobless workers and the self-employed not covered by regular unemployment insurance and is available to:

· Those who lost their jobs due to the January 2007 freeze.

· Workers who had been contracted to work but were unable to begin work due to the freeze.

· Those who were not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.

· Those who have exhausted their regular benefits may apply for DUA.

After you apply, you will receive claim information by mail. You may be required to provide EDD with a copy of your pay stubs or tax documents from the previous year to demonstrate that you were employed or had a business.

To be eligible for DUA, you must have a legal right to work in the United States.

Food commodities are available for individuals who reside in Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Merced, Monterey, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties. To find out where to receive food assistance, contact your local county food bank. They will direct you to the nearest distribution site to where you live. You will need to show that you are a resident of the county and a victim of the disaster. Examples of residency verification include a rent receipt, utility bill or other proof of residence and verification that you are a victim of the disaster includes pay stubs or notes from your employer showing that you have been laid off work.

Low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to small, non-farm businesses that have suffered financial losses due to the freeze itself or due to freeze damage to crops such as citrus. These are loans to small businesses that are dependent on growers of citrus and other freeze-impacted crops.

Eligible small businesses for an SBA loan include those who deal directly with the growers or other agricultural producers such as packing houses, truckers, and suppliers of agricultural equipment or services. Owners of small “Main Street” businesses whose customers are dependent on agriculture income, such as gas stations and markets also may apply for these disaster loans.

Citrus and vegetable growers and farmers and ranchers should contact their local Farm Service Agency/U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for information on the Emergency Conservation Program, Emergency Loan Program, Federal Crop Insurance and Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

Undocumented immigrants can receive food commodities, regardless if you are a documented or undocumented immigrant. You do no have to demonstrate your immigration status.

You must show that you are:

· A victim of the freeze (pay stub or note from your employer that you have been laid off).

· A resident of that county with a rent receipt, a pay stub, utility bill or other proof of residence.

· You will also be asked to sign a document certifying that you meet the income eligibility guidelines, are a resident of the county and a victim of the disaster.

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