Urgent needs for shelter, food and clothing for tenants displaced by the Dec. 29 fire at 23rd and Capp streets drew more than 30 people, including District 9 Supervisor David Campos, to Plaza Adelante Thursday night.
More than 20 residents were affected but none were injured in the blaze, whose cause is still unknown. Victims can obtain donated clothing at Dolores Street Community Services this afternoon.
The fire, which began around 9:30 a.m. in the lower-level apartments at 3222 23rd St., damaged five units, affecting at least three buildings on Capp Street and one adjacent building on 23rd Street.
The San Francisco Red Cross, Mission Economic Development Agency, Dolores Street Community Services and housing nonprofit Causa Justa/Just Cause are teaming up to provide information on legal rights, temporary housing, emergency food stamps, pet boarding and other issues.
San Francisco has limited resources to help the residents, Campos said, adding that housing was the biggest priority.
“I don’t know if I have the words (to) express the sadness of losing your home to a fire,” Campos said. “We live in a very special city that takes care of its people … We have the opportunity to demonstrate that more so when something like this happens.”
Community advocates Malea Chavez, Nick Pagoulatos, and Marlon Mendieta set up a Facebook page to keep in contact with the residents, inform people of donations and provide other updates. The organization has also set up an account to generate funds for the residents, and the Red Cross is providing funding for beds and bedding. The clothing giveaway by Dolores Street Community Services will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. today.
Just Cause housing rights organizer Lucia Kimble and housing attorney Phil O’Brien addressed a range of legal questions about the protections and limits of tenants’ rights laws and other disaster provisions.
“The insurance for the landlord is only for him,” said O’Brien, as Kimble translated into Spanish. “That doesn’t help you, and that doesn’t help tenants.”
Campos and City Emergency Response Coordinator Benjamin Amyes told the group about the newly enacted Good Samaritan law. If that law is applied in this case, the city would work with apartment associations to push property owners to rent to the displaced residents at their previous rent-controlled prices.
The law was put in place particularly to address the needs of residents displaced due to fires, said Amyes, but he has only seen it applied on two occasions.
San Francisco law also provides for tenants to pay the same rent if they decide to move back in after their apartments are restored to building code standards, according to O’Brien.
“It’s a very valuable right,” he said.
Tenants at the meeting voiced worries about what to do next, as their vouchers for hotel stays will be used up by the end of the week. One resident asked about the landlord of her building allowing her only an hour to collect salvageable items from her apartment.