Flames and smoke from the fast-moving wildfire near Campo. Courtesy OnScene.TVThe Urban Corps of San Diego County announced Monday it has received a $150,000 grant from the San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund to provide jobs for young adults, who will help homeowners create “defensible space” in wildfire-prone areas.
Urban Corps will employ adults ages 18-26 to improve wildfire safety in wildland-urban interface areas, such as canyon rims, where homes border natural terrain covered in vegetation.
They will create up to 100 feet of defensible space around high-risk homes through thinning, pruning, clearing and chipping vegetation. The focus will be on serving low-income and elderly homeowners whose homes are surrounded by dangerous build-ups of brush. According to an Urban Corps statement, work is expected to begin within the next several weeks.
The COVID-19 fund awards grants to local nonprofits that are supporting low-income workers, families and vulnerable communities most affected by the coronavirus crisis. To date, the fund has raised $16.8 million and distributed $13.7 million in grants.
San Diego Gas & Electric has donated $2 million to the fund, with plans to donate another $1 million in 2021.
“Getting San Diegans back to work is a critical piece of our region’s economic recovery from the pandemic,” said SDG&E President Scott Drury. “Young adults with little to no job experience are especially challenged in finding employment. Programs like Urban Corps give young job seekers a leg up by providing them with real-world job experience and the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, making them more employable.”
Urban Corps operates a work-learn program that allows young adults ages to finish high school while earning a paycheck, learning job skills and working for the community through professional services. Members attend an onsite charter school one day a week and work in the field four days a week on a variety of job training projects, such as fire fuel reduction, tree planting, habitat restoration, graffiti removal and recycling.
“SDG&E and the San Diego Foundation’s grant to the Urban Corps will create a triple benefit,” said Tracey Williams, president of the Urban Corps Board of Directors. “It will generate jobs at a time when they are desperately needed. It will improve wildfire safety, and it will give young adults paid work experience while providing critical services to our communities in need.”
–City News Service
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