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Grand Street Fire Update

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Contractors are working quickly to take down the Grand Street buildings destroyed by fire one week ago. This was the scene yesterday afternoon — workers hovering above the wreckage, carefully removing the top floors of 283 and 285 Grand.

On Saturday, about 100 displaced tenants staying in Midtown hotels were relocated to different hotels in Harlem and Queens. The shift was upsetting to many of the residents, who at least for now, are far removed from their community. City officials tell the Daily News “We want to get them back close to their home community for schools and things like that.”

This morning, Councilmember Margaret Chin is working to address some of their concerns. Tonight, the tenants will gather in Chinatown for an update from city agencies and non-profit organizations helping them cope with the difficult situation.

One of those organizations, Asian Americans for Equality, is setting up a Grand Street Fire Fund, to help residents replace critical government documentation, such as Green Cards and driver’s licenses. Here is the letter AAFE executive director Chris Kui sent to supporters:

Late night on Sunday, April 11, Chinatown experienced one of its biggest tragedies in years—a seven-alarm fire that engulfed three tenement buildings, resulting in one fatality, 33 injuries, and hundreds of tenants displaced. This fire has been dubbed by the New York Times as “City’s Worst Fire in Years.”

While affected tenants have been temporarily placed in short-term housing, their plight has only just begun. In fleeing for their lives, many tenants literally escaped with only the clothes on their back. On top of trying to secure new permanent housing, these people need to replace IDs such as green cards, driver’s license, safety deposit box keys, and other identifying items.

Asian Americans for Equality is helping affected tenants obtain replacement IDs. We invite you to partner with us on this arduous—and extremely costly—process. For a family of four, it would cost over a thousand dollars to replace documents for everyone. For example, the filing fee of replacement for Citizenship/Naturalization paper is $380.00 per person. This is money that the fire victims do not have.

AAFE has established the “Grand Street Fire Fund” to ease the ID replacement cost for fire victims. Through the creation of this fund, AAFE can continue to address their special needs and circumstances, and can continue to provide the unique multi-lingual services we currently offer.

To contribute to the fund, please send your donation, either as cash or check (indicate “For Grand Street Fire” in the memo line) payable to Asian Americans for Equality at 111 Division Street, New York, NY 10002. You can also make your tax-exempt donation online via credit card by visiting www.aafe.org and clicking on the “Donate Now” button. Please write “For Grand Street Fire” in the Dedication text field.

Thank you for your generous support in helping Grand Street tenants rebuild their lives. For donation-related inquiries, please contact Peter Gee at 212-979-8381, ext. 112 or at peter_gee@aafe.org.

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