In recent weeks, here in the City of Lowell, there have been some pretty horrific fires which have displaced dozens of families. One fire displaced 18 families on First Blvd), while another fire displaced 9 families (Willow/Chestnut St).
The Lowell Fire Department did a fantastic job knocking down theses fires and all families affected got out of their homes safely. Here is a link to the Lowell Sun story for the Chestnut/Willow St fire.
The Red Cross and the City of Lowell have been phenomenal in providing immediate aid and shelter to all of the families affected by these fires.
The challenges for our families extend far beyond the days/evenings following these fires. That’s where staff at Community Teamwork’s – Housing Consumer Education Center really show their “stuff”.
As is often the case, client assistance funds are scarce and their use often dictated by the grantor or contract. When the First Blvd. fire occurred, we had few funding contracts in place that would have allowed us to re-house families.
That being said, this does NOT stop us from providing vital assistance and service to our neighbors in need.
In the days immediately following these fires, Community Teamwork staff, working in tandem with the Red Cross were able to identify & connect with the affected families. Our families were either sleeping on cots at the Lowell Senior Center, staying with friends or family, staying in motels and they had lost every last possession in the fire.
Our goal, here at Community Teamwork is to alleviate the above homeless conditions in the shortest time frame possible and this is how it was done….
- Coordinate communication with landlords and ensure that families who were moving onto other housing units, were discharged from their current leases and rental agreements.
- Ascertain what funds were being returned to our families from their landlords (deposits, last months rent).
- Assistance with identifying new housing
- School backpacks for the children
- Communication with school social workers/guidance counselors
- financial assistance with re-housing costs
- Referrals to The Wish Project for emergency clothing items and furniture referrals once our families had found a new place to live
As I had stated above, we had very little in the way funds that would have allowed us to provide re-housing assistance to our families…until we held our Might Merrimack River Boat Queen fundraiser!
Community Teamwork’s Mighty Merrimack River Boat Queen fundraiser was a fantastic success due to the overwhelming generosity and kindness of Greater Lowell’s residents and businesses. Nearly 400 people packed the Lowell Memorial Auditorium to try their luck at Vegas style games and entertained by Mirage, a group of female impersonators who are based in New York City. All proceeds raised go toward homelessness prevention for our neighbors
Through the generosity of our community, we were able to provide VITAL assistance to many of the families affected by these fires. It was because of you that our neighbors were re-housed in a very short time frame so that now, these families may concentrate on the challenge of re-building their homes and their lives!