Burned-out families catch a break - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Burned-out families catch a break

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September 29, 2006

Albany - - A dozen Albany families displaced by a Wednesday morning fire now have a temporary place to call home. It came with a lot of controversy though - as many of them didn't know where they'd go until today, when they were told to check out of their hotel.

They lost almost everything. Three days after this devastating fire, plastic bags now hold their food and toiletries.

"We were basically just left behind," says Brian Pitts - one of the 11 families who were put up at the Albany 8 Inn. Now, they're being put out.

"They hadn't placed us anywhere and every time we called they said give us an hour or so. Were frustrated. We've been frustrated now were about to be put out of here. Didn't have anywhere to go didn't know what our next step was," says victim April Dukes.

All while the motel manager waits for them to check-out.

"Look. I have to run my business. I have to pay my bills, no one comes and pay my bills. Any business, you have to pay the rent. You go to any hotel, no body gives you a free room," says manager Jay Patel.

The residents were told they could only stay here for 3 days. They want to know how come the city didn't have a plan for when they'd have to leave here.

"After the threat that I was going to get the news involved in it, they decided to do something," Pitts says.

Jennifer Clark with the City of Albany says it took time to figure out how to place the families.

"We were working with each of the households to determine what their needs were, what their current rent was, their ability to pay, what their needs were as a family. It was obviously based on family size."

After meeting with them all, the city decided to place some families at different apartments in Albany and 6 other families here at a new emergency housing shelter...just opening today.

Grateful he has a place to stay, Pitts is still left with a bitter taste from how it all went down.

"Some people are going to apartment buildings in Hambersham, Hampton East and things like that. We have to go to a homeless shelter."

Home for the next 3 months until the city organizes their next move. 

Jennifer Clark says the Odom Street Apartments in south Albany can't be re-occupied yet. She says the city has to do a cost analysis to see if they should be renovated or simply re-built. 

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