Facing a deadline Saturday to remove residents’ belongings from a badly damaged Washington apartment building, City Mission residents arrived with trucks to help residents and relief workers clearing out the former Clark School on Jefferson Avenue.
A storm last month sent water gushing through the roof into the Jefferson Place building and leaking ceilings caused city officials to turn off both water and electricity and evacuate 14 families from their homes.
“I wanted to hug every one of those guys when they showed up,” said Liz Smith, director of Washington and Greene County Catholic Charities’ offices.
“We had a passion to get the job done, but we were short on muscle.”
City Mission residents hauled beds, dressers, couches, tables and scores of boxes down the stairs and loaded them into the waiting trucks, the mission said in a news release.
Catholic Charities caseworker Jessica Wilson, as part of a city-wide search for assistance, contacted the mission after receiving the Jefferson Place family referrals from the Red Cross.
“Everything I owned in the world was in that building,” said former Jefferson Place tenant Alicia Waites, a military wife and mother of three.
“I don’t know what I would have done if those people hadn’t shown up to help.”
No one remains in the hotel.
“Three of the 15 or so households became permanently housed,” said Jeff Fondelier, vice president of operations for Community Action Southwest.
“One went into a shelter. The others made arrangements with either families or friends until a permanent option could be identified. We continue to reach out to them on a regular basis.
“Many, if not all of them have employment income. We’re still in search of affordable places for these folks to go. There’s a fairly wide spectrum of what they can afford, and they’re looking for places on their own as well.”
The Washington County Housing Authority has a waiting list for displaced families, and it’s unlikely the Jefferson Place residents would get to leap-frog over others to get to the top of that list.
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development requires local housing authorities to maintain a waiting list for displaced families, and one was set up in Washington County for those affected in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.
Sally Mounts, interim director of development for the City Mission, contributed to this report.