“Rebuilding homes and restoring lives”: it’s the slogan on every t-shirt and work truck driven by Home Crisis Response Network (HCRN), and the organization is currently working on doing just that in Paradise after the Camp Fire devastated the town in 2018.
HCRN helps rebuild communities after disaster strikes. So far, they’ve assisted with 235 catastrophes and helped 36,000 families since it was founded as a full-time response organization in 1999. HCRN does this free of cost, and is entirely funded by donors.
HCRN plans to be in Paradise for 7-10 years, and has already helped establish the Camp Fire Collaborative (a group of over 50 different organizations that are working to help Camp Fire survivors in Butte County), served on 8 long term recovery groups throughout California, helped with the distribution of furniture and other supplies.
HCRN rebuilds homes at no cost to the homeowner. They focus on residents with little to no insurance as well as the elderly, single-parent families, disabled, and any family not able to do it themselves. “Our goal is to alleviate some of the pain and suffering in rebuilding,” says Kevin Cox, the founder and CEO of HCRN. “We look at every level, invest in the relationship. You’re treated with a lot of respect and dignity – you’re not a client, you’re a part of the family.”
The organization utilizes volunteers from organizations like AmeriCorps, but short-term volunteers are their primary labor force to assist with their efforts. In Paradise specifically, HCRN has worked with North Valley Community Foundation, United Way, Red Cross, Paradise Alliance Church, and the local Rotary club.
“Collaboration is key to success in any disaster. We have to work together to meet those needs,” says Kevin. They find that working together with the aforementioned organizations helps them meet their goals, and better serve the communities they aid during the recovery process.
“Rebuild projects are called Hope Cities,” says Kevin. “It used to take a village; now it’s a city. And Hope City is the collaboration of all groups providing resources, [such as] the volunteers [and] NGOs bringing hope back to a family.”
HCRN is also very committed to seeing projects through to completion, and they never leave a community early. And because HCRN is involved in everything from leadership in the emergency phase, to response recovery, and the finished rebuild, the process sometimes takes longer than anticipated.
For example, HCRN was the only rebuilding organization present at the time of the Lake County fire, during which about 1300 homes were lost. They ended up staying over five years when it would have been less time if there were more organizations to help residents rebuild.
Despite the difficulty of the work, Kevin takes pride in what HCRN has accomplished. “It’s very exciting to have a small part of the regrowth of Paradise and knowing we are making a difference one house at a time,” he says.
If you or someone you know is considering moving back to Paradise, HCRN wants to help. “Come talk to us,” he says, “Because you’ll find that we walk that journey with you [and assist with] any insurance issues [you’re] dealing with, talking about how we mitigate properties.”
“Don’t be afraid to come back,” adds Mark Cox, an HCRN staff member overseeing the project in Paradise along with his wife Melisa. “It’s got a whole new generation of people coming back. You’re not alone.”
You can email Info@hcrn.info to see if they’re available to help rebuild your community, or if you’d like to volunteer.