At about 2 a.m. on Sunday, July 22nd, the Westbury Apartment Complex in Westminster caught fire forcing 140 people out of their homes. The fire was so quick that some residents jumped from second and third story windows to escape the blaze. Two women died of fire-related injuries.
For Unison, it was all-hands on deck in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) department.
Brenda and Laura led the charge, joining many nonprofits and agencies to provide resources at the quickly-set up Disaster Assistance Center at Silver Hills Middle School. Simultaneously, HCV Specialists contacted all 19 families with Unison vouchers who lived at Westbury. Laura got on the phone and called landlords to pull on heartstrings asking if they had heard about the fire and whether they might have any vacancies, “Landlords were very sympathetic and offered up units regardless of whether they were currently participating in the HCV program.”
That Wednesday, Unison hosted these displaced families at a meeting to provide a current list of apartment openings and help them with HCV paperwork to move into a new unit. Laura was struck by how close the neighbors were, “It was a close knit community. When we held the meeting, they just kind of hung out afterwards and talked, reconnected and exchanged phone numbers.”
Thanks to the whole HCV team for the long hours and extra efforts to help families get through this terrible experience and become stably housed again.