JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ashley HomeStore and the city of Jacksonville are helping families who were affected by a massive fire at the Calloway Cove Apartments, providing them with new beds at no cost.
It's been nearly a month and a half since dozens of families were displaced by the fire. The official cause of the fire has not been released. Much of the damage remains, but the tenants have been moved in to other apartments.
On Monday, Ashley HomeStore's organization Hope to Dream partnered with the city to help them with some of the comforts of home.
"It's fantastic. There's a level of emotion and depth and you think about what if these were your children," said Tori Fusinaz, Ashley HomeStore's marketing director.
News4Jax spoke to a mother who is eight months pregnant. Keturah Johnson, a tenant, said she is grateful for the help, but she believes the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Millenia Housing Management, the property owner, should do more.
"My entire life is in that building," Johnson said. "We want compensation for the stuff that we lost. People have memorabilia, baby photos, baby footprints, stuff we can't get back."
Johnson says the fire victims' personal property is still in the burned out apartment complex and families are not allowed inside.
She's moved five times since the fire and she just wants peace. Monday, according to a notice, there was supposed to be an inspection at the burned apartment complex but that didn't happen.
"We were told that we would have the opportunity to get our things. That has been postponed by management," Johnson said.
Johnson is concerned she will never get her property back and pay for some of what the families' lost.
Millennia Housing Management thanked the city and the furniture company for the donations. A spokesperson answered the following questions asked by Jenese Harris:
Q: When will residents be able to go back into their homes?
A: The displaced residents have been permanently rehoused in units at Calloway Cove. The timeline to repair the affected building has not yet been determined.
Q: Will they be able to get their property out of their damaged homes?
A: To answer this, I will need to follow-up with our director of risk management who is traveling today.
Q: Has the cause of the fire been determined?
A: As mentioned, the cause of the fire is still under investigation by various officials.
Q: When will the tenants receive permanent housing?
A: The residents have been permanently rehoused. In the future, households who are not currently in renovated units may need to relocate on-site because of the extensive rehabilitation underway; the community will receive an estimated $10.6 million in renovations.
Q: Is there a lawsuit pending against Millenia management for the fire?
A: Not to our knowledge.
Q: Will there be other projects/partnerships that we can cover in the future for the tenants?
A: The Donor Direct program is in place for individuals or organizations that would like to give directly to those affected by the fire. We will notify you if additional organizations express interest in projects such as the Hope to Dream initiative that was implemented today by Ashley HomeStore.
The state and or Millenia management decides when the families can go back into their homes and if they can get their property.