Housing co-op says 12 families displaced by Sunday night’s blaze need your help

JoDee Durrant-Pheonix gives Bill Norris a hug, after he brings a donation of drinks and snacks for the displaced families. Liny Lamberink/980 CFPL

A local housing co-op is asking for the community’s help, after 12 of its families were displaced by a fire over the weekend.

“We have four families that have lost everything, and eight families who don’t know what they lost,” said JoDee Durrant-Pheonix, a member of the Tolpuddle Housing Co-op.

A blaze broke out late Sunday night and caused an estimated $800,000 worth of damage to the east-end complex. The co-op has four buildings on the corner of Adelaide Street and King Street, and offers affordable housing options.

READ MORE: Six-year-old treated for smoke inhalation following east end blaze

Durrant-Pheonix told 980 CFPL they’re in need of permanent housing solutions for the four families whose homes have been destroyed since those units will need to be completely rebuilt.

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“The other remaining eight families — we are unaware of when they’ll be able to get back into their units. They haven’t been home since Sunday night.”

The co-op’s manager, Stephanie Fizell, told 980 CFPL some families are currently staying with family members, those with insurance are put up in hotels, and one family had moved into a vacant apartment within the complex. But the majority of those solutions are temporary, she explained.

And the need doesn’t stop there.

Durrant-Pheonix said they were given 48 hours worth of food from the Old East Village Grocer, but they’re still in need of personal hygiene products, clothing and furniture.

“All of those things you and I and everybody else take for granted, everyday.”

READ MORE: 5-storey affordable apartment building approved for London’s Old East Village

By Tuesday afternoon, donations had started trickling in. Fizell said a woman moving out of an apartment donated her furniture to the displaced families, while other people had dropped off some women’s and children’s clothing. A GoFundMe has also been launched with the aim to raise $35,000.

Bill Norris, with the disaster restoration company Diresco, also contributed a load of water bottles, pop and snacks.

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“We’re just trying to do a little bit to help,” he explained.

Durrant-Pheonix and Fizell are now hoping the rest of the community will try to help too.

Durrant-Pheonix adds that she’s worried people are confusing Tolpuddle Housing Co-Op with city-run affordable housing.

“We’re not being taken care of,” she said.

“Different from London Housing, Tolpuddle is an independent co-op owned and operated by the members… the city of London has zero financial responsibility for anything that happens here. So it’s the members that are responsible.”

Eight families need supplies to get by for an undetermined period of time, while four families are starting from scratch.

“They’ve lost everything,” said Durrant-Pheonix.

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