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Housing options may end
Official seeks help for some victims of Spruce Village fire
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Some people who were displaced by the June 14 fire at Spruce Village apartment complex are panicking because their temporary housing options may be running out.
“I feel bad. They are calling. They don’t know what to do next,” said Vicky Belcher, director of the Martinsville Victim Witness Program.
“To just hear panic in their voices, when they only have (a few days of 21-day temporary housing) left, something needs to happen for these people,” Belcher said.
Belcher’s office is serving about 33 people displaced by the fire at Spruce Village, she said. They are being helped through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund (CICF).
According to information on the fund’s website, the Virginia General Assembly created the fund in 1977 to pay unreimbursed expenses of innocent victims who suffer personal physical or emotional injury or death as a result of a crime. The fund, which is administered by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, is funded by court fees, assessments on offenders, restitution and a federal Victim of Crime Act grant to supplement moneys available to victims of violent crime, according to the fund website.
Martinsville fire officials have ruled the blaze arson.
Belcher said the fund has been helping those displaced Spruce Village residents with such things as storage, moving, dry-cleaning and cleaning of damaged property, and new mattresses. And accounts have been set up at the Jameson Inn, Dutch Inn and Knights Inn to provide temporary lodging, she said.
The displaced residents have been staying in the local hotels and/or with families and friends, Belcher said. She estimated about 20 people have been staying in hotels.
She pointed out, though, that it is difficult to give exact numbers because people are in and out of hotels because, say, they can stay at a relative’s house for a week.
The fund (CICF) can provide up to 21 days of temporary housing and one month’s rent, Belcher said.
Most of these displaced residents are about at the end of their 21 days of temporary housing, and there is a problem finding housing on a month-to-month lease, Belcher said.
She is asking for the public’s help. Any property owner willing to rent space on a month-to-month lease is asked to call Belcher at 403-5467.
Belcher is looking for safe neighborhoods. Most of the displaced residents are elderly and need assistance. “Some might actually need handicapped facilities,” Belcher said. Lodging will be paid at government rate with no extras, such as cable, she said.
Belcher said Spruce Village has not given a date when the displaced residents will be able to move back in — so as not to get people’s hopes up.
“They’ve got people hired in to do the (repair) work. They’re doing it as quickly as they can,” she said.
When contacted by phone, a woman who identified herself as manager of Spruce Village referred a reporter’s questions to Sherry Milliron of F&W Management LC, a property management company in Roanoke. Milliron did not return a phone call.
The director of CICF did not return phone calls.
Spruce Village resident Cheryl Lemons was charged with arson in the fire that displaced 100 residents at the Martinsville apartment complex.
Many of the 100 residents were told they could move back in June 16.