PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Families are still without permanent homes after a fire destroyed a multi-family home on Lincoln Street more than a month ago.
The problem would be a lack of available units in the city, especially multi-bedroom ones for large families.
The Christian Center helped about eight families by accommodating them in hotels. Executive Director Betsy Sherman said the majority of families who sought help from her organization after the fire have children.
“I think the biggest issue for them is that they need apartments, they need housing,” she said.
It has been reported that around ten families have been displaced. The Red Cross distributed hotel vouchers for a few nights immediately afterwards.
Flames tore through the 12-unit Lincoln Street home on the evening of April 22 and spread to a nearby building on Cherry Street. The main building is completely gutted with extensive smoke, water and heat damage on one side and moderate damage on the other.
Earlier this month, the center approached Facebook asking for help in its efforts to find accommodation. Its support comes from a fire fund created for these purposes and from donations.
“The Christian Center needs help!!!” The read message. “For the past 3 weeks we have been housing families in hotels from the Lincoln Street fire. We are working with housing and the city to find permanent accommodation for them, unfortunately there is no housing available at this time. “
Sherman said monetary donations to the fire fund are helpful as well as advice for available housing, which can be called at the Christian Center.
As well as being in regular contact with most families, the organization has worked with the Berkshire Housing Authority and the Pittsfield Housing Authority to identify homes.
Gift cards for takeout or restaurants are also useful in the situation, as it is difficult to cook a meal for a family nearby.
Although hotels are providing shelter for the time being, Sherman fears the tourist season could make rooms unavailable.
“The biggest problem we are facing right now is the fact that in another 2 and a half, three weeks, the summer season starts in the Berkshires, at which point the hotels that they are now saying they will not have rooms, or at least not consistent rooms,” Sherman said, adding that this creates a push to find housing for everyone.
She also explained that the only family shelters with openings are on the east side of the state and because the children are still in school and have suffered trauma from the fire – and the pandemic – it would be unfair to ask them to move.
The Christian Center will continue to provide families with alternative housing through ongoing donations and the fire fund and will need additional donations to stay ahead of costs.
Donations can be dropped off at the center at 193 Robbins Ave. or checks can be mailed. To provide information on available accommodations, call 413-443-2828.
Key words: Fire,