NORTH ADAMS — The city's historic Flood House is expected to house about 13 people left without shelter after last week's Louison House fire.
The city's Housing Authority Board of Commissioners last week approved a temporary emergency lease agreement granting the Family Life Support Center permission to house Louison House occupants at the Church Street building.
The news is welcome but the building will not house any residents for possibly two weeks, said Alan Bashevkin, interim director for the support center.
"There are some things to be done before we put people in there," he said Saturday. "Flood House had a little water damage and before we move anyone in, we want to go through the building and make sure everything is OK in there."
There were 14 people living at Louison House in Adams last week when a small fire on the third floor set off the sprinkler system, causing water damage throughout the building and rendering it uninhabitable. The maximum permitted occupancy at Louison House is 21 people.
One resident was able to find suitable housing soon afterward; the rest of the displaced residents remain in rented motel rooms, Bashevkin said.
Initially people were moved to a Howard Johnson's motel in Williamstown, but the temporary arrangement ended Friday. Folks since have been moved to a different motel, Bashevkin said. Motel accommodations will likely remain in place until Flood House is ready for occupancy.
Louison House helps Northern Berkshire homeless residents by providing a range of services, such as assisting with budgeting, teaching life skills, providing transitional and permanent housing and other services.
The Family Life Support Center, which operates Louison House, purchased the Flood House from the city housing authority late last year for $1. Plans to create permanent housing there have not changed, Bashevkin said.
"On an emergency basis we will be able to use Flood House to help out with the Louison House situation but the ultimate goal for Flood House is to create permanent housing while Louison House will continue as it has," Bashevkin said. "Since it could be a couple weeks before we can get people into Flood House, there's still a need for cash donations."
The First Congregational Church Community Outreach initiative in Williamstown issued a challenge grant soon after learning about the fire, the water damage, and subsequent shelter shutdown, Bashevkin said.
"It's a $5,000 challenge," he said."We're hoping that folks want to meet the challenge. The community is coming out to support us during this time."
Insurance adjustors have visited the 395 Old Columbia St. shelter and a professional cleaning crew is working at the site. Shelter staff members are sorting through saturated items, salvaging anything that can be saved, Bashevkin said.
"There are bags and bags of stuff being checked out and sorted," he said.
Bashevkin urged anyone facing a loss of home or shelter to contact the life support center while the shelter is undergoing repairs.
"Louison House is not going to go away," he said."Anyone facing homelessness should try to contact our staff. Louison House is still the place for transitional housing."
Telephone communication may be difficult while the shelter is closed. Bashevkin suggested that those facing a housing crisis contact shelter Supervisor Sherry Dunne using email at email@example.com.
"Our residents are bearing with all of this," he said. "But as time foes on, this will get tiring."
How to help ...
Those interested in making cash or gift card donations may contact Tracy Beany at 413-884-1142. Those wishing to inquire about donations such as furniture should contact Beany or support center board President Mark Farrington at 413-884-4413. All donations are welcome but due to storage constraints, people offering large items such as furniture should contact Farrington or Beany so that appropriate arrangements can be made.