A GoFundMe campaign has been started for the tenants displaced by the November 8 fire that consumed a tire shop and damaged a neighboring apartment building at 16th and Shotwell streets, displacing 29 tenants. The campaign has reached more than $1,210 in three days — a good start, but far short of the $100,000 goal.
Though he says he’s aiming high, Raul Pacheco is also hopeful that the community will step up to help him meet this goal.
“I just threw a number out there — but really, anything helps,” said Pacheco, who started the campaign on Saturday, hoping that the funds raised would be something that the displaced families could benefit from in the long run.
A separate GoFundMe campaign was set up for the employees of the Rolling Stock tire shop, where the fire started. The business has been operating for 27 years, and 20 “non-union tire techs, welders, wheel repair specialists, sales people and office staff lost their livelihood,” the fundraisers wrote. That campaign has fared better, having drawn some $16,000 in donations.
Pacheco, a case manager at Instituto Familiar de la Raza, is one of the 29 tenants that were displaced from the six-unit apartment building at 2878 16th St., where he has lived in a bottom floor apartment for 20 years.
“I really wanted to help the family on the top floor, whose apartment was completely destroyed by the fire. They have kids and they lost everything — it’s going to be really difficult for them,” said Pacheco. “I hope that the funding will help them get back on their feet so that they can start something new.”
Pacheco plans on distributing the money raised among the six families that were displaced — he said that he will seek advice from the Mission Economic Development Agency on how to do so when the times comes. The organization helped manage a similar funding campaign following the fire at 22nd and Mission streets in January.
“You can’t just dump money into people’s laps,” said John McKnight, director of emergency and disaster services for the Salvation Army. An organization like MEDA, he added, can give the necessary oversight, and he commended them for handling the 22nd and Mission fire fundraiser.
“MEDA did a great job ensuring that money didn’t get taxed and went to people in a way that it helped them and not hurt them,” McKnight said.
Whether or not Pacheco meets his goal, he hopes that the GoFundMe campaign will establish a process for community advocacy that supports fire victims in the future, so that they are not left without resources when disaster strikes.
“Fires have happened before and they are so common now in the Mission, I found it interesting that there isn’t something we can rely on if this happens again,” said Pacheco. “I am privileged because I know the system — I am a case worker and I am educated on how to find resources, but not every one is that fortunate.”