The Community Action Lehigh Valley today issued its report to the community on how this community’s benevolence was distributed to the families who lost their homes to a multi-alarm fire on North Fountain Street in Allentown in October. The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley collected just over $130,000 for the Fountain Street Fire Fund; after the fundraising drive was over, another $25,000 was given. That brought the total raised and fully distributed to $155,613.
Fortunately, no one was harmed in the fire. However, eight families lost their homes to the fire. They each received support from the American Red Cross Lehigh Valley-Bucks Chapter during the fire and in its immediate aftermath. Once the emergency services were exhausted, the families each received a $2,500 check from the Fountain Street Fire Fund within a week of the fire. Also, the American Red Cross was reimbursed for the funds it used so that it will be prepared for the inevitable next disaster.
Then, each family was interviewed by a Community Action volunteer. A system was established that ranked the needs of the families using the size of the family, including especially the presence of children, disabled or elderly individuals, and their incomes.
During the week of November 22, additional payments were made to the families as more money was raised. Seven families (Community Action staff temporarily lost contact with the eighth) received additional aid totaling $23,058. Community Action staff connected the families to in-kind donations gathered by several neighborhood-based groups, including clothing, furniture, and food, assistance finding new housing and additional services.
Checks totaling $58,816.75 were distributed to eight families (Community Action was able to re-establish communication with the family that was lost) during the week of December 9. A final distribution totaling $41,469 was distributed the week of January 13.
The families who were displaced ranged in size from one person to six people. Six of the eight families had incomes below 200% of the federal poverty rate. The amount given to the families ranged from $7,788 to $24,975.
One family had homeowner’s insurance; none had renters’ insurance.
Five families have found suitable permanent housing while three are still in temporary arrangements, two of which are staying with family.
Community Action praised area landlords for their cooperation and willingness to help.
The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, the American Red Cross Lehigh Valley-Bucks Chapter and the Community Action Lehigh Valley thank each of the good people who were moved by the plight of their neighbors to act. We are lucky to live in a community that takes care of its own.