Rally to support Queens fire victims set to be evicted from hotel residences

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, June 11, 2021
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JACKSON HEIGHTS, Queens (WABC) -- A rally was held in Queens to support the families forced out of their homes by a massive fire.

500 people are now scattered throughout the city trying to piece their lives back together after the devastating fire that burned through their Jackson Heights building in April.

The eight-alarm fire injured 21 people, including 16 firefighters.

The fire was caused by an overloaded power strip, and it spread quickly because the door to the fire apartment was not shut as the residents fled the flames.

The extensive damage forced the city to issue a full vacate order, but not before agreeing to put the families in hotels at no cost to them.

However, they're set to be evicted from hotels on the 20th which is Father's Day. It's also one week before the school year ends for New York City Public School students.

Residents like mom to be Ingrid Perez, worry about being put in a shelter and being separated from family.

"It's not a comfortable place for my daughter. I don't want her to be raised in a shelter," Perez said.

The Tenants Association joined lawmakers, tenants and community activists, calling for a hotel extension until September and more housing options.

A GoFundMe account has raised a little more than $350,000. That's about $1,700 per family.

Tenants say while they are thankful for the community support, it's not enough to get them back on their feet.

"Extend our hotel stay. We need that time. We understand budgets are tight, but we are working class community," said Angie Espino of the 89th Street Tenants Association.

The Department of Housing Preservation & Development issued a statement saying it worked with the American Red Cross after the fire to get hotel rooms for residents for months.

The department also says it provides relocation assistance to people and has already referred several families to affordable housing options, and officials are urging people to register with the their Emergency Housing Services to get extra help.

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