VIDEO: Temporary shelter for residents displaced by deadly Oakland fire closes Wednesday


OAKLAND (BCN) — A temporary shelter currently housing 11 displaced survivors of last week’s deadly four-alarm fire on San Pablo Avenue will shut down Wednesday, according to a statement issued Tuesday by Oakland city officials.

The shelter initially housed 71 people on its first night after the fire on March 27 at 2551 San Pablo Ave. City officials said the number of people staying there has been reduced significantly, but it was never intended as a long-term option.

Four people died in the fire and seven others were injured. City officials have said a candle caused the blaze at the building, where residents said they didn’t hear smoke or fire alarms going off that morning.

City officials say they’re working to re-house the remaining displaced residents, but a shortage of affordable housing has made finding new homes challenging, in part because of barriers many displaced residents
faced before the fire.

The city’s statement was released just hours before a news conference scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday, which was eventually canceled by the organizers, including co-editor of POOR Magazine and the Poor News Network Lisa Gray-Garcia.

Gray-Garcia said fire survivors are about to be displaced with no money, support or housing.

“What’s really going to happen now is that more people are going to end up in the encampments,” she said. “It’s an extremely depressing situation.”

Gray-Garcia also said the deadline to vacate the shelter was initially going to be Thursday, but city officials moved it forward.

“To me it was highly suspect,” Gray-Garcia said.

Oakland city spokeswoman Erica Terry Derryck said that city officials had some internal dialogue about closing the temporary shelter Tuesday, but that discussion was not previously made public.

“I can’t speak for where Lisa got that information,” Derryck said. “I don’t think there’s been a change,

A temporary assistance center has been set up inside a facility normally used as the city’s business assistance center. Service providers who had been working at the temporary shelter will be available by appointment at 270 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, according to Derryck.

“We’ve been reaching out to people to let them know appointment times,” Derryck said. “It’s not really a drop-in center, so for everybody’s benefit, folks eligible for and in need of assistance have been contacted with an appropriate time to come by.”

Services available at that location include replacement of identification cards from the state Department of Motor Vehicles, interim housing providers, and county medical personnel.

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