|Allison Kendall with her son Kaiden outside her parent’s home where she lived temporarily before finding an apartment in Harwich.|
Sudden, life-changing events can be traumatic, something that 33 people living in Dennis Port learned when their condominium complex was damaged by a fire in the beginning of June.
“It was traumatizing to watch, to see a place we had called home go up in flames,” Allison Kendall said. “It was kind of unreal. I still can’t fathom that actually happened.”
Kendall lived in one of the 16 households that were impacted by the fire. She and her one-year-old son Kaiden were fortunate in that they were unharmed and their apartment was not damaged as the fire affected four units on the opposite side of the building.
Still Kendall found herself suddenly without a home, like the others living at the Sea Breeze Condominiums, as the building was evacuated and deemed uninhabitable following the incident.
That is when HAC stepped in to fill a need, working with 26 people living in 11 of the units to find permanent housing elsewhere on the Cape.
Four days after the fire, HAC intake counselor Liz Belcher and project prevention director Dolores Barbati-Poore met with residents of the Dennis Port complex and began prioritizing them based on their level of need. Some had family and friends they could stay with indefinitely, while others needed immediate assistance.
HAC was able to secure housing for three families in Barnstable just days later.
Housing specialist Derick Bussiere worked with one woman in her 60’s who was in a particularly precarious situation. “She had no place to go and no family or friends here,” Belcher said. “She had no vehicle and walked to everything [at Sea Breeze]. He was able to find her a place in Dennis to help get her back on her feet.”
This type of response to an emergency is not unusual for HAC. In the past three years, Belcher said, the agency has done similar work for Cape residents at least twice. And as they have in the past, Belcher said, everyone at HAC “came together really quickly and they got things done” in assisting those affected by the Dennis Port fire.
That led to a happy ending for Kendall and her son who, after working with HAC and the Harwich Ecumenical Council for the Homeless (HECH) while temporarily staying with her parents, is now living in a two bedroom apartment in Harwich. “Thanks to them I’m fortunate enough to have a place,” Kendall said. “If it wasn’t for their help I don’t know where I would be.”