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Housing offers pour in
For displaced Spruce Village residents
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Martinsville Victim Witness Program got an “overwhelming response” after it made a public appeal to help some displaced residents from Spruce Village whose temporary housing options possibly were running out.
“Everyone is in a much better position now and has more options than before,” said Vicky Belcher, director of the Martinsville Victim Witness Program who is coordinating services for the Spruce Village residents.
A June 14 fire displaced 100 residents at the Martinsville apartment complex, but many of them were told they could move back in June 16. Some of the others found help through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.
That fund can provide up to 21 days of temporary housing and one month’s rent, but as of July 9, officials were having problems finding suitable and safe housing on a month-to-month lease, Belcher said.
That situation had changed by Tuesday.
Belcher estimated she got roughly 60 calls July 10 and 11 after her appeal for help from people willing to rent space on a month-to-month lease was published in a Martinsville Bulletin article July 10.
The majority of the callers offered to rent space on a month-to-month basis, and others offered different assistance. For instance, one man offered to pay for two nights of lodging at a hotel or motel for each displaced person who did not have other housing options, Belcher said.
About 10 of the spaces that were offered for rent on a month-to-month lease were found to be suitable, meeting the needs of the displaced residents, many of whom are elderly and some handicapped, and meeting other requirements of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.
Some of the callers offered to waive the security deposit, she said.
Also, Belcher pointed out, the fund has offered this option: If a person will pay her normal one month’s rent, the fund will pay the difference to extend hotel/motel lodging if there are no other options.
Belcher was waiting Tuesday on updated figures on how many residents still are displaced and where they currently are staying. So far, she said, two people had made arrangements to move into rental space on a month-to-month basis, and the Red Cross is assisting with the security deposit on a case-by-case basis.
Also, “some (displaced residents) are slowly moving back in” Spruce Village after repairs are completed at their apartments, she said.
Belcher said Spruce Village “is working at a rapid pace” to make repairs so displaced residents can move back in.
“We’re hoping everyone will be (back in Spruce Village) at least by the end of September,” she said.
Belcher said July 9 that in all about 33 people who were displaced by the fire at Spruce Village were being helped through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund. The fund was helping residents not only with lodging, but with such things as storage, moving, dry-cleaning and cleaning of damaged property, and new mattresses.
Spruce Village resident Cheryl Lemons was charged with arson in the fire that displaced the residents.