The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts is distributing the last of the donations it raised in the wake of the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, organizers have announced.
The foundation raised approximately $1.3 million from over 12,000 donors for those affected by the blaze that killed 36 people in December. Through direct donations and a widely promoted campaign on YouCaring.com, the foundation raised more than any charitable group in the Bay Area.
The group will provide funds to a total of 390 applicants, which range from deceased victims’ next of kin, displaced residents, those injured in the fire, plus “hundreds who would not be acknowledged by traditional disaster relief organizations,” including “chosen family within marginalized communities.” Gray Area said it had already distributed over $1 million since January, and would disperse the remaining $200,000 in funds on a weekly basis.
The foundation had faced criticism for taking too long to distribute the money it raised, and for requiring documentation for the expenditures.
“Most of the affected ppl I know were too wracked with grief and despair to start immediately worrying about receipts, and most are too poor to even think about going to therapy,” Scout Wolfcave wrote on Facebook. (Wolfcave is the executive director of the Trans Assistance Project, which raised funds for the families of the trans women who died in the fire.)
In a statement posted on its Facebook page Monday, the foundation defended its slow, methodical process of vetting applicants in need of funds “to help prevent the fraud that has plagued other organizations and is sadly typical in the wake of such disasters.”
“We care intensely about getting these funds to the affected communities,” the statement said. “Our protocol, timelines and forms are in line with that of teams in similar situations, such as the One Orlando Fund. Meeting IRS guidelines is not optional for a non-profit organization such as Gray Area.”
Gray Area also announced that it has started another online fundraising campaign to provide ongoing support and resiliency to those affected by the fire.
Below is a breakdown of the payouts from the Gray Area Foundation.