Almost two months after a four-alarm fire in the Mission District displaced more than 35 people, some residents are still without a permanent home.
The fire on May 6 scorched two buildings at the corner of Duboce Avenue and Valencia Street. All of the residents but one escaped without injury, but it could take years before they can return to their former homes.
“Finding housing is the number-one thing,” said Donna Logan of the Red Cross. “Everything else is secondary.”
Residents gathered at the Friends School on Thursday to talk about their fundraising efforts to help the victims.
Margarita Acosta, a teacher at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, initiated an online campaign to help the family of her students, who are temporarily living in public housing at Treasure Island.
Neighbors are setting up another online fundraising campaign that will benefit all victims. On Sunday, some neighbors are holding a fundraiser at Casanova Lounge on Valencia Street.
Mission Local contacted some of the buildings’ tenants to find out how they are doing.
101-109 Duboce Avenue
Angelina Gamez, 81, continues to recover from a fractured femur, an injury she sustained days after the fire. The Red Tab Foundation, which assists employees and retirees of Levi Strauss and Company, her former employer, has pledged financial support.
Kyle Hech has found housing in the Mission. His roommate, Sarah Choi, who sustained injuries to her legs and feet in the fire, is currently participating in the Miss California pageant in Fresno.
Tabitha Russell, 24, and her roommates, found a home in the Mission for the same rent and happily Tweeted about it recently.
“NO MORE HOTELS! NO MORE CALTRAIN!” she wrote on Twitter in early June.
Russell, who is a bartender, also donated $100 to Acosta’s fundraising campaign.
204-208 Valencia Street
Lorena Hernandez, a single mother of five, continues to live with her children in a city-owned apartment on Treasure Island. Mission Local visited Hernandez earlier this month.
“You realize just how alone you are,” she said. “I thought that I could count on certain people, but now I realize that it’s not that way.”
They have until Sept. 15 to find housing on their own, a task that seems impossible in San Francisco’s competitive market. She seemed pessimistic that she would be able to find a place in the city on her salary as a cafeteria worker.
Lorena Hernandez’ brother, Jose Hernandez, is also living on Treasure Island with his wife and two children. He told Mission Local that he is working sporadically at a moving company and is desperate for work.
Ben Howell, an architect, will move to Los Angeles with his wife at the end of July. They are currently living at a friend’s house in the Sunset District. They had planned their move before the fire, as his wife will begin medical school in the fall.