Supes approve allocating $150K to help Sunnyvale apartment fire victims

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Scores of families displaced by a two-alarm fire in Sunnyvale will receive additional financial assistance from Santa Clara County under a proposal passed today by the board of supervisors.
During its meeting in San Jose today, the board of supervisors in a unanimous vote moved to assist 166 victims of the April 15 fire at Twin Pines Manor Apartments located at 1066 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road with $150,000 from the general fund.
"It's one of the largest displacements caused by a fire in recent history that I can remember," said board president Dave Cortese, who added many of the victims had low incomes.

On Tuesday night, the community came together to help the families who are struggling to find low-income housing. For now many of the victims are calling the Vagabond Inn their temporary home. 

Among them Naga Chimakurthi, his wife and 2-year-old son. Naga broke down talking about how their lives have been turned upside down. His son is dealing with an allergic reaction after the move. His wife said all she wants is to prepare home-cooked meals.

"I need to manage my work as well," said Naga Chimakurthi. "My office people are helping me a lot."

"We are facing a lot of problems," said Chaya Chimakurthi. "We came from India. We are staying in a motel. We don't have sufficient food."

They're among 70 people who packed St. Cyprian Parish Center in need of low income housing. Their complex before housed elderly, veterans and the mentally disabled.

"Unfortunately there's no place that can replace the 77 units that were lost," said Marie Bernard of Sunnyvale Community Services. "There's no one place we can send all of them. This was low-cost housing."
Low-cost, below market housing is not easy to come by in Silicon Valley. So far, the nonprofit has helped house 15 of the 70 families.

"It's our community," said Volunteer Michelle Broom. "We are all part of Sunnyvale and it's important for all of us to reach out and help each other."

Broom is among a dozen volunteers who prepared and cooked a spaghetti dinner for the families. The Chimakurthi family hopes one day soon they'll be able to cook their own meals in a place they can call their own.
The county will also allocate $150,000 to its Office of Affordable Housing to provide the victims with shelter, transportation, case management work and other needs with help from the nonprofit Sunnyvale Community Services and Emergency Assistance Network.
The nonprofit has provided motel vouchers to the families valid through May 8 and is working to provide passes through the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, Cortese said.
The Downtown Streets Team is also working with the nonprofit to assess needs of the families and prepare future living arrangements, according to Cortese.
"In the first week, we've already moved 12 of the families into new homes. The community has been remarkably generous in its support of these families, but we still need more," nonprofit executive director Marie Bernard said in a statement.
The fire started around 1 p.m. and sent two people to the hospital. One female resident suffered from smoke inhalation and another was treated for burns, according to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.
The American Red Cross helped set up a shelter for the displaced residents at the city's Community Center, public safety officials said.
Cortese and Simitian, who was absent from today's meeting, authored the proposal.
In a statement Simitian said, "My hope is that we can find them some temporary shelter, buy them a little bit of time, and provide some guidance about how they can settle in in a new location."
During today's meeting Sunnyvale Mayor Glenn Hendricks addressed the board in support of the proposal.
The city created a GoFundMe page to help the fire victims that has raised $30,390 of its $50,000 goal as of late this afternoon. Donations can be made online at