Uncertainty Lingers for Mission Fire Victims as City Aid Runs Out

By Laura Waxmann : missionlocal – excerpt

Gabriel Medina, policy director at the Mission Economic Development Agency, proposes housing solutions for tenants displaced by two major Mission fires.

Tenants displaced by two major Mission fires gathered at the Brava Theater on Saturday for a holiday dinner, sponsored by community donations, and to discuss new housing solutions. Many of the low-income tenants and families suffered devastating losses after the fires, and most are still in need of permanent housing – some of them urgently so.

Over a warm buffet and tamales, with a volunteer santa handing out donated gifts to affected children, the fire victims voiced frustrations over their housing insecurity and the lack of progress in the reconstruction of their burned buildings. The Mission Economic Development Agency, which has counseled many of the victims on their needs, led the discussion.

With the two year-anniversary of the 22nd and Mission fire coming up next month, some “60 people will lose their temporary housing,” said MEDA’s policy manager, Gabriel Medina.

Most of those displaced by that fire, and some of the tenants displaced by the 29th and Mission fire, were housed using the city’s Good Samaritan law, which allows landlords to offer displaced tenants temporary housing at reduced rates without committing to rent-control leases in the long term, said Medina.

But the program caps after a 24-month period, after which the displaced tenants will have to seek new living arrangements… (more)

Insurance company disputes have stalled reconstruction of that building, said Peter Papadopoulos, a playwright and housing right activist.

“It’s common for insurance companies to take a considerable amount of time to pay out. Landlords, if they are a single party, often can’t afford to build until they get a pay out,” he said.

Papadopoulos added that buildings damaged in both blazes will unlikely be rebuilt within 24 months, and that extending the tenants’ access to emergency housing assistance is crucial.  “Some of them are running out of time – 22nd Street hasn’t even started [reconstruction].”… (more)

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