CNJ staff photo: Tonjia Rolan Matt 25 Hope Center Director Steve Reshetar helps load donated furniture to be delivered to families displaced by the Feb. 1 Clovis Apartments fire.
Over the weekend, Matt 25 Hope Center’s Director Steve Reshetar and staff delivered donated beds, dressers, sofas and tables to storage units of three families who lost their homes Feb. 1 in the Clovis Apartment fire.
“Community response has been fantastic,” Reshetar said Monday. “But it’s what I’ve come to expect from Clovis. After the (2007) tornado they responded with such generosity I’ve just come to expect it.”
Twelve families were displaced by the fire at complex on Martin Luther King Boulevard. No one was injured.
Fire investigators determined the cause as accidental.
In the collaborative effort between local relief organizations, the Matt 25 Hope Center has been responsible for collecting and distributing furniture donations to February’s fire victims.
“The struggle is still to find affordable housing,” Reshetar said. “More so than the stuff we collect. There has to be a place the families can stay.”
United Way of Eastern New Mexico Director Erinn Burch said as of this week, five families have found homes, but only two of those are permanent dwellings. One family is moving back into a vacated Clovis Apartment unit and one has signed a year lease.
Red Cross paid the first month’s rent for three families who found homes, but who can’t afford the rent long-term, Burch said.
“Red Cross has been great,” Burch said. “Most fire families don’t get this kind of help.”
Burch said she feels good about the resources that have been available for the fire victims, but said, “It’s time for these families to rally their own forces and make some good, long-term decisions.”
According to Burch, even with the Red Cross offering to pay first month’s rent, seven families “simply don’t have a place to put that to work for them,” and are still staying with friends or relatives.
Debbie Montoya of the Lighthouse Mission said donations of household items are still coming in and being distributed to families. Montoya said families still stop by for clothing, but are “making do” with groceries.
With furniture distribution under way, Reshetar said, “Now I can say more definitively what needs we have. We need dressers and bureaus, TV stands, end tables and coffee tables.”