Community rallies to help Mission fire victims

San Francisco firefighters battle a four-alarm fire at a residential and commercial building on the corner of Valencia Street and Duboce Avenue in San Francisco, Sunday, May 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
July 1, 2012 6:46:41 PM PDT
Many people forced out of their home after a fire are still looking for a new place to live. Community members rallied on Sunday for their neighbors, since half of the residents are still looking for a home.

The fire happened in May in an apartment building in the Mission District and it left 37 people homeless.

Organizers of the fundraiser said it was odd because this day marks about two-month anniversary since that devastating fire. They know it's been two months because it was Sunday Streets on Valencia and the fire that forced so many residents out of their homes happened on the first Sunday Street event of the season back in May.

The burned out shell of what used to be an apartment building teeming with residents, is an eerie reminder for organizers of Sunday Streets.

"It really kind of cast a pall on what otherwise was a fantastic day for the neighborhood," said Susan King, a Sunday Streets organizer.

As flames tore through the building that Sunday, residents were devastated as their homes were destroyed.

"My mom, she lived in Unit 6 and my brother and my sister, so I carry my mom down, I carry her and so I saved my mom," said Sultan Alkhraisat.

Now two months later, about half of those residents are still struggling to find permanent homes in the city. Tabitha Russell and her roommates only recently found a home, but she remains concerned for some of her former neighbors.

"I know that it was hard for us, four single kids in the city, but it's much harder for a family, so we're trying to help out as much as we can," said Russell.

So their neighbors decided to pitch in. They've blanketed the area with posters with the hope that the people who enjoyed Sunday Streets will spread the good will at their fundraiser.

"We've been tweeting it, and putting it on our Facebook page and in the media to just let everybody who loves Sunday Streets in the Mission know that there's something you can do to help the community and this is it," said King.

The biggest concern is finding permanent housing for a family of 12. In San Francisco, it is difficult to find affordable housing for a family that large.


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