Buford Highway apartment fire displaces multiple families
Advocates say at least 14 families are in need of housing and financial assistance after a fire ripped through their homes on Saturday night.
A fire broke out in the building of the Park Towne North Apartments Complex in Brookhaven on Saturday night, spreading through eight different units and forcing families out of their homes. No injuries or fatalities have been reported.
At least seven of the impacted families received assistance from Red Cross staff members who showed up the night of the fire, according to Stephanie Correas, Executive Director of the grassroots group Los Vecinos de Buford Highway.
Most were able to find accommodations - either with friends or family, or in nearby hotels. But one family with a young child who has special needs, ended up spending the night in a parking lot. "They weren't able to find somewhere to sleep because they needed ID to be able to get a hotel room, so they spent the night at the QuikTrip across the street," said Correas.
By Monday, Los Vecinos had identified at least 14 families who were directly impacted by the fire. Correas said many of them had young children, "One mother, she just gave birth four days ago. The rest of her babies were very young kids...I cant imagine what they're going through. They've lost everything."
The organization has launched a fundraiser and coordinated a donation drive to support families with everything from toiletries to clothes to food. "Community members have really shown up, especially local teachers, these are their students...," said Correas.
It's not clear whether all the impacted tenants had rental insurance. But whether they did or not, will determine what sort of financial assistance they'll have as they try to find homes in a rental housing market that is both expensive and over capacity.
"Park Towne North is one the largest and oldest apartment complexes on Buford Highway. It's also one of the most neglected, and cheapest places in town to rent. But at about $1000 a unit, it's one of the only ones that has fairly affordable rental prices," said Correas.
A representative from the property company told 285 South that there are no units currently available at Park Towne North. The daughter of the one of the impacted tenants said there are. For the families whose lives were just upended by the fire, they're now facing yet another challenge - finding permanent housing that is both safe, and affordable in metro Atlanta.
Want to help impacted families? Here's a link to the Los Vecinos de Buford Highway fundraiser.
[The Dekalb County Fire Department and Title Realty Management Co., the company that manages Park Towne North Apartments, haven't yet responded to requests for more information. ]