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Disabled fire victim needs housing help

December 8, 2010 6:49:01 PM PST
Most of the 40 evacuees of a huge fire in Redwood City, about a month ago, are still in temporary housing and are looking for permanent homes. Most have special needs and that makes it even more challenging in this tough housing market.

The fire swept through the apartment building at 240 Linden Street in the early morning hours of Nov. 4.

"The firemen broke down my door and just wrapped me in a sheet and took me out at 3 a.m.," says fire evacuee Elizabeth Dolmat.

Dolmat, 73, was one of 40 tenants evacuated that morning. The apartment house was a special kind of place for the 40 tenants. Most have disabilities. They built relationships and it was like a family home.

All were placed in temporary housing and most are still there. Dolmat lives at the Days Inn in Redwood City. She's been in a wheelchair since she survived a stroke and then a bad accident.

"The places I've called are either taken or they're upstairs and I can't manage steps," says Dolmat.

Dolmat is eligible for federal Section 8 housing subsidies, but many landlords won't accept them.

"Claudia helps to relieve some of my stress," says Dolmat.

Claudia Umana and her mother have been her caretakers for the past seven years.

"As far as I'm concerned they're as close to family as I have," says Dolmat.

Whatever housing Dolmat finds has to be close to Redwood City where her caretakers live. ABC7 went with Dolmat on Wednesday to look at an apartment. One did accept Section 8 tenants, but as always, something was wrong.

"I don't think it's going to work," says Dolmat.

The bathroom and kitchen were too small for her wheelchair. Twenty-four of the evacuees are living in temporary quarters at the Pacific Euro Hotel. They all have serious mental illnesses. Peg Morris is with the Caminar Agency, a social service agency, that's trying to find them find homes.

"It is definitely tougher for them and for the most part, they are unable to do it themselves," says Morris.

Dolmat has just one Christmas wish. She says, "I'm just hoping that there's someone else out there who can be of some assistance."

If there's a way you can help Dolmat, you can contact her directly at: (650) 200-5613


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