Marshall fire victims without tenant insurance struggle to get help

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SUPERIOR, Colo. (KDVR) – A man who lost everything he had in the Marshall Fire is now afraid he will be left homeless.

Donald Wieser is one of many without rental insurance and is now strapped for cash, even after requesting several types of assistance. He said he was frustrated after trying to seek help from several agencies.

“Most of them give you a little financial help, but staying in hotels costs $500 a week or more. It helps you for a short time, but after that I’m really going to be homeless,” Wieser explained. He is staying at a hotel for the time being, which is paid for with Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars.

It was difficult for him to know what to do next. Part of the problem, Wieser said, is that navigating the support process is confusing.

“I just want everyone to make it easier because it’s really hard to navigate all of this,” Wieser said.

Nearly half of Colorado renters are uninsured

The Small Business Administration and FEMA both offer assistance to uninsured renters, but that help, Wieser said, doesn’t come fast enough. He went on to mention that he wishes he had renter’s insurance, which the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association says isn’t purchased enough. The RMIA said nearly 50% of tenants nationwide do not have tenant insurance.

“Renters are always a vulnerable group where they thought they were covered by their landlord or didn’t carry it. They didn’t think about it,” said Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association. .

Renter’s insurance in Colorado costs an average of $25 per month, according to the RMIA. The Disaster Assistance Center offers help for people who need extended temporary accommodation and said the amount of information can be overwhelming.

FEMA said it also wanted to help.

“The first thing for anyone affected by the Marshall Fire or high winds in Boulder County is to seek FEMA’s assistance,” said FEMA Public Affairs Specialist Anthony R. Mayne. “If found eligible, tenants may receive personal property assistance,” he added.

So far, the agency has given Wieser $2,000, but he’s hoping for more. Meanwhile, officials at the Sister Carmen community center, which has a position at the Lafayette Disaster Assistance Center, have offered to help her navigate the application process.

They helped countless people affected by the Marshall Fire. Wieser plans to meet with them this week.

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