DENVER — The Boulder County Sheriff's Office predicts as many as a thousand homes may have been lost to the fires on Thursday. With rebuilding expected to take some time, an immediate goal is finding housing for hundreds of people who may be in need of it.
While some seek shelter with family and friends, others are left to figure out where they're going to live next.
"That's going to be a priority of our administration, working with the federal government to provide as many options to people as possible," Gov. Jared Polis said at a press conference Friday morning.
While the state and federal government work to find some options, some companies are stepping up to help those displaced better navigate their next steps.
"When I saw the need of people's houses burning down, I'm like, 'OK, soldier time. Let's do this.' These people need our help," Brian Sanchez said Saturday.
He's the owner and founder of Denver Apartment Finders and founder of the nonprofit Faith in Denver. The company helps people find apartments that fit their budget and needs without having to do any of the work. The entire process is free.
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"We go all the way down to Lone Tree, Highlands Ranch, Centennial, Englewood, Aurora. We go up north to Erie, Broomfield, Lafayette, the Boulder area, Rino and everywhere in between," Sanchez said.
So far this year, Denver Apartment Finders has placed 250 families in homes. Its nonprofit arm has helped pay for temporary housing for people who've lost their homes or don't have one.
Right now, Sanchez says there are $49 million available in emergency rental assistance funds that could help those displaced, but they'd first have to find housing in Denver County.
"They can have some of these emergency funds, which can pay up to anywhere from like six to 15 months of their rent," he said.
His nonprofit, Faith in Denver, also has limited funds to help temporarily place people in hotel rooms.
Sanchez says his agents are standing by to help people find the best housing option for them, a process complicated enough in this rental market without the burden of a disaster.
Additionally, FEMA announced on Saturday disaster assistance has been made available to homeowners and business owners affected by Thursday's fire. The funds can be used for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover.
Residents and business owners can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.