The Lower Columbia Community Action Program is asking for help to find housing for 17 former Common Rooms tenants who lost their apartments in a pre-Christmas fire.
Nearly two months after the Dec. 21 fire destroyed the boarding house at 1226 11th Ave., the area’s low vacancy rate has prevented the former tenants from finding new housing, said Melissa Taylor, CAP Program Development Director.
“It’s a very tight housing market anyway, and having all these people at the same time looking for a place makes it tough,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the Common Rooms housed “some of our most vulnerable community members,” including a man confined to a wheelchair experiencing organ failure and an elderly woman with a terminal diagnosis. About 30 people were displaced by the fire.
CAP has been paying to house the former Common Rooms tenants in hotels for about a month, after funds from the American Red Cross and donations through Love Overwhelming ran out, Taylor said.
Taylor said CAP’s funding is not unlimited and the organization is trying to find affordable housing for the tenants by the end of the month. CAP is asking landlords, property managers or anyone who may have a room for rent to contact Landlord Liaison Jack Hansen at 360-425-3430 ext. 239.
CAP will pay for move-in costs and tenants will pay rent, Taylor said. Rents at the Common Rooms ranged from $400 to $500 per month including utilities, she said.
Taylor emphasized CAP is not subsidizing rental payments, and the former tenants would pay regular rates.
Taylor said Aaron Blanchard and Brian Weathers at Precision Properties helped house four households soon after the fire. Three households relocated out of the area, and the whereabouts of four other individuals is unknown, she said. Love Overwhelming executive director Chuck Hendrickson said at least one former tenant had stayed at the warming shelter.
Longview Fire investigators found the fire was started by unattended candles and that there were no smoke alarms in the building.