SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — In the wake of the devastating Wine Contry wildfires, people who live in a fire-ravaged Santa Rosa mobile home park are suing their insurance companies, saying they can’t get help because their homes didn’t burn down.
At the Journey’s End Mobile Home Park, some homes still stand, but most burned down during the fire last October.
Since debris removal was finished, the mobile home park — and the lives of those who lived there — are just as much in limbo as they were in the days after the fire.
“Basically, this has been the year of living in a question mark. Because no one has an answer,” said / Journey’s End homeowner Yvonne Rawhouser.
She has lived in the park for 30 years. Her house survived, but isn’t liveable. None of the surviving units are, thanks to the fire. But despite the damage, she can’t get money from foremost, her insurance company, and has had to get help from Sonoma Legal Aid.
“They are claiming that they don’t have to pay out on those claims because the park was closed due to ‘govenrment action.’ Well in fact, the park was closed by the city and the state because the fire destroyed it,” explained Ronit Rubenoff with Sonoma Legal Aid.
Rawhouser is in stage four renal failure after three fights against cancer. She moved 11 times this year and just wants to be made whole.
And she isn’t the only one. Legal aid says there are about 33 homeowners in Journey’s End with houses still standing. Almost 30 of them face the same problem as Rawhouser. 13 are also insured by Foremost.
“These are the people who are the worst off. They are the elderly, under insured, the disabled. And here they are getting stonewalled by their insurance company,” said Rubenoff.
The problem is so widespread with so little movement from the insurance companies that Legal Aid is taking the next step. Starting with Foremost, Legal Aid plans to file a complaint with the Department of Insurance for bad faith business practices, hopefully launching an investigation into the practice and getting payouts for all.
“It would be nice to start over and go somewhere. But I can’t even start over, because my assets are all tied up in a home that I can’t live in, sell or move,” said Rawhouser.
KPIX 5 reached out to Foremost for a comment and received an out of office notice from their spokesperson.