After a Fire, BEDS was There to Help Displaced Families

On December 30, 2018, a fire consumed three apartment buildings in Justice, Illinois’ Willow Hill apartment complex, instantly rendering hundreds homeless.  In the immediate aftermath of the fire, nearly all the families affected were able to stay with family or friends. Unfortunately, there were some people who needed the support of BEDS and were diverted from the shelter using motel vouchers. Now, all have been rehoused, thanks to the tenacious dedication of Joann Boblick, manager of prevention and stabilization services, and generous financial support from Lyons Township and the Community Memorial Foundation.

Within the first week of learning of the fire, Joann and others were able to meet with 27 families during open intake sessions. Another two families were referred to BEDS, bringing the total to 29 households. Their 43 members included infants, the elderly, veterans, and people with chronic health conditions. These families had little to no income and lacked savings to cope with the crisis.  Most were receiving Medicaid and food stamps and managing to get by, month to month.

While a handful of families located housing in new areas closer to family, most of those displaced by the fire have been rehoused within the same community they came from. This is great news! It is traumatic enough to lose your home, not to mention the added strain that can come with having to leave behind familiar places, people you know, and the natural support system you worked hard to build.

According to Joann, part of BEDS success at efficiently rehousing these families was due to the relationship BEDS quickly established with the apartment managers at the Willow Hills apartments.  “I am very grateful for the assistance [Willow Hills] offered to ensure families could spend as little time as possible without housing.”  Willow Hills immediately offered space to meet with displaced families helping BEDS to assess the situation and quickly secure funding and resources to help those in need.

“While it can be easy to jump into action at the beginning of a crisis, the folks at Willow Hills continued to work closely with us to move families into new homes,” Joann added.