City loan to house residents displaced by fire

Matthew Artz Daily Planet Staff
Wednesday September 25, 2002

City Council passed a measure Tuesday guaranteeing continued shelter for the 69 residents of the UA Homes left homeless by an Aug. 26 fire. 

Council authorized up to $150,000 to the subsidized housing complex Resources for Community Development (RCD). The loan will allow RCD to continue housing residents in nearby hotels even if repairs to the building on 1040 University Ave. are delayed. 

Since Red Cross disaster relief aid expired on Sept. 11, RCD has spent $42,000 taking care of residents at local hotels and other RCD complexes. RCD has a cash reserve to cover hotel bills until the second week of October, the date repairs at UA Homes are expected to be completed, Williams said. However, if the construction, which started last week, becomes delayed, RCD will not have enough money to support residents. 

The four-story building, founded to provide shelter and care to homeless people, burned after a pile of clothes accidentally caught fire, city officials said.  

Drew King of the city’s housing department said it is in Berkeley’s interest to keep RCD funded. 

“They have offered programs that are very valuable for us and provide housing that is very hard for a city to operate,” King said.  

Williams said that to maintain some cash reserves, he expected that RCD would apply for a $40,000 loan, approximately half the repair costs, assuming that construction is completed on time. 

Building repairs are scheduled to proceed in two phases. Phase one, scheduled to be finished by the second week of October, will repair all but the six most damaged rooms. Because there were six vacancies before the fire, all of the residents will be able to return when that work is completed.  

Phase two will repair the parts of the building most damaged by the fire and is expected to be finished within four months. 

In addition to free accommodations, RCD has worked with city agencies to make sure that the residents are given food and transportation passes to those who work. Because the hotel rooms do not have kitchens, many of the residents who don’t qualify for food stamps were concerned that they would not be able to eat. 

Terms of the loan have not been discussed, but King said the money would come from the city’s housing trust fund.