SALEM — Ten days after an early-morning fire damaged an apartment building on Dow Street, the 45 people left homeless have encountered all sorts of charity — from financial donations to a clothing drive to toys for the kids from a downtown store.
What many haven’t found yet is a place to live.
The Red Cross provided free stays at a hotel in Peabody in the days immediately following the fire, and after that, the city picked up the tab until this past Tuesday. It originally looked like some of the displaced would be allowed back in their apartments, but that didn’t happen.
Now, city officials say 10 families, 36 people, are still looking for homes and mostly staying with friends and family while they do.
Mayor Kim Driscoll’s office, the Salem Housing Authority and various local agencies like the Salvation Army, North Shore Community Action Programs and Catholic Charities are continuing to try to help them find housing, and the state’s department of Housing and Community Development has also assisted.
So far, three of the displaced families have succeeded in acquiring long-term housing, said Dominick Pangallo, the mayor’s chief of staff.
“It’s been a concerted effort by a number of groups and people,” Pangallo said.
At the same time, donations have streamed in from many corners. More than 5,000 items were donated in 48 hours via a drive hosted by the Salem YMCA late last week, including clothing, toiletries, food and other household items. More than 50 volunteers helped sort through the donations and then distribute them from the YMCA’s basement, and some even transported families to and from the hotels where they were staying.
“Honestly, the outpouring of support and the number of people who dropped off clothing was amazing,” said Jason Silva, the YMCA director. “Our entire downstairs was full.”