Victims of wildfires and subsequent mudslides that wreaked havoc on California late last year could be getting an assist from big-hearted Realtors, who combined forces earlier this week in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to raise a $650,000 disaster fund.

Homeowners and renters caught up in the catastrophes — including the so-called Thomas Fire and subsequent Montecito mudslides — could be eligible for $3,000, one month’s rent or one month’s mortgage payment thanks to an effort by the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, the Ojai Valley Board of Realtors and the Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors.

The funding, with the help of state and national housing assistance money, is expected to assist more than 200 families, said Matt Capritto, president of the Ventura County association.

“The fire and debris flow destroyed more than 700 homes in our region, including the home my father had lived in for 45 years,” Capritto said. “Many of the families affected have been utilizing savings and credit cards to stay afloat and are facing financial hardship. Area Realtors want to continue helping the disaster victims, and this is a great way we can do so.”

The need is particularly acute for victims of the debris flow in Montecito in January, said Andy Alexander, president of the Santa Barbara association. The disaster that washed mud and rock from burnt hillsides surrounding Montecito into the streets below killed 21 people, including one Realtor; injured 28; and damaged or destroyed more than 380 homes.

Victims can download application forms at, or

All funds are expected to be disbursed within three months.

Email Gill South.

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