Displaced residents of the Blair House Apartments are still transitioning to a new life after the May 12 fire that began at Huntingdon Electric Motor Services and spread to their building.
Currently 31 of the residents have been placed in permanent housing, with the remainder staying with relatives or at the Huntingdon Motor Inn or the Comfort Inn.
Beverly Foor, the housing case manager for Center for Community Action (CCA), said they have been working diligently with other agencies, especially the housing authority, to find residents a more stable location.
“We contact them whenever they find different housing opportunities. Some of those are out of the Huntingdon area and they aren’t wanting to go in that direction,” she said.
While local agencies such as CCA, the Huntingdon County Housing Authority, the Salvation Army and the Huntingdon-Bedford-Fulton Area Agency on Aging have been coordinating effectively to assist the residents, there has been difficulty contacting Stanford Management, the Blair House property owners.
Michelle Rupert, director of the Community Soup Kitchen at the Presbyterian Church, has been in close contact with both the residents and local agencies since the beginning of relief efforts. Residents want to know when they will be able to collect what remains of their belongings.
“From our end it has been very good working with the local agencies, but there is no communication coming from the building managers or the people running the management company. I can tell you that all the local officials here are having the same problem. It is very frustrating,” she said. “I’m hoping we’re making progress as far as being able to retrieve things from their apartments.”
Rupert has been in contact with residents on a regular basis and says many have been “confused and overwhelmed” from being in communication with all the various agencies. She recalled an incident with Walmart that highlighted the sense of miscommunication.
“After the fire Walmart was giving them up to $200 to spend on clothing and hygiene items. However, they never told us the end date for that...it took us a few days to reach everybody, and when we reached some of them Friday and they went Sunday it was already over,” she said.
Thankfully though, Rupert said there has been no shortage of donations from the community, and that the Presbyterian Church will be writing checks this week for all the money donated to give to each of the residents.
Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.