News

Warren Slocum guest opinion: Housing donors needed for victims of Redwood City fire

Warren Slocum represents the 4th District on the Board of Supervisors and lives in Redwood City.

By Warren Slocum

Imagine how you would feel if you and your family lost everything in a fire and you couldn't find a new place to live? Now imagine your home was one of the very few affordable places to live in one of the most expensive areas of the country.

With one-bedroom units in Redwood City commanding an average of $2,053 per month (an increase of 8.2 percent over last year), the victims of the July 7 six-alarm fire at the Hallmark House Apartment building on Woodside Road are in desperate straits to duplicate the rare living arrangements they had.

Eighty people (out of 97) have not been able to find a place to live in San Mateo County that they can afford. After moving from a temporary shelter at the National Guard Armory to local motels, the fire victims are facing yet another challenge: They have to vacate the motels in 30 days. They, along with so many others, must compete for a very limited number of affordable housing units in this market.

County motels have provided accommodations to the fire victims up to now. However, motels are not permanent housing solutions. They have done their part in dealing with emergency housing. We thank them.

We are now asking San Mateo County apartment building owners for help. We ask that you consider offering one vacant unit in your building to a fire victim. We realize this is a unique request, but these people have lost their housing because of a fire and not through any fault of their own.

For those people with vacant in-law units, motels with living units and home-share opportunities, we ask that you help. We're not asking that the unit be free we're asking that it be affordable. And we're not asking that it be forever we're asking that it be for as long as the tenant wants to call it home.

We're not asking for multiple units we're asking for a single unit.

If enough housing rental units aren't found in the next couple of weeks for these people, the 80 fire victims will be forced to look for housing in places like Modesto, Fresno or Galt communities that are not known, not "home."

Can't we do better as a community? Can't we find a way to accommodate the victims of this tragedy? These fire victims are fellow Peninsula residents; some are veterans, seniors, families with children and people with disabilities. This could have happened to any of us. We ask the apartment building community in Redwood City, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and San Carlos for their compassion and action.

Help just one individual, couple or family who are fire victims to stay in our county, stay connected to their friends, doctors, dentists, schools, favorite parks, stores and familiar places. Help them keep what's left of what they know as "home."

Just one unit. That's what we're asking.

To offer a unit to a fire victim, please contact Supervisor Warren Slocum at (650) 363-4570 or wslocum@smcgov.org. His office will coordinate an appropriate referral match.

Comments

Posted by David, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 16, 2013 at 10:11 am

Thank you, Supervisor Slocum!


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2013 at 11:03 am

Perhaps Mr Slocum can contact Woodland Park Apartments in EPA, since they own thousands of units, the landlord could use the good PR & these poor folks deserve a break. There is onsite security. Web Link

The portfolio manager is named Chris Peter.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Glad to see the involvement and compassion. This also underscores the importance of tenants to carry renters insurance which not only protects the contents damaged but also pays for expenses to relocate. $10/month is all that is needed. It is affordable.


Posted by Carolyn Clarke, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 16, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Mr. Slocum, thank you for sharing this important issue! After care for disaster victims will quicken the healing process and help to yield a more positive outcome for us all. Our communities need support systems in place for such catastrophes.


Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Mr. Slocum's appeal has a little catch - it must be both "affordable" and not forever but "for as long as the tenant wants to call it home". If a landlord lowers his rent to "affordable", and the tenant chooses to "call it home" for a very long time, how can the landlord limit the duration of his largesse? Can the landlord offer reduced rent for a period of 2 or 3 or 6 months and be guaranteed that the tenant will vacate or accept an increase to a regular rent amount after that time? With insufficient money for normal rent, will SMC post security deposits for these people as it doesn't sound as if they can do it for themselves?

It's a commendable sentiment but I don't see an acceptable exit route for the landlord who may find tenants who choose to call the new place home for longer than the landlord can afford the charity.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Downtowner - the acceptable exit route is called a lease.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Here's a bit of an update: Web Link


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