Area steps up for displaced residents
The Countryside Village apartments were condemned by the City of Beloit
BELOIT Local service agencies know the Christmas spirit is alive and well in Rock County.
Beloit and Janesville residents stepped up in a big way to help the tenants of 32 apartments who were displaced this week from Countryside Village Apartments in Beloit, said Marc Perry of Community Action of Rock and Walworth Counties.
"I have been on the phone thanking people all morning," he said Wednesday afternoon. "I was overwhelmed by the community's generosity."
Fortunately, the situation wasn't as desperate as originally feared. All 32 families were able to find housing without use of an emergency shelter, either by contacting family or friends or working with local agencies to find new apartments, Perry said.
The shelter, established at Central Christian Church, Beloit, closed late Tuesday night and will not reopen, he said.
The families had to leave their apartments Monday and Tuesday after the city declared them uninhabitable.
Officials say the owner, Barry Chernowsky of Chicago, allowed mold, lack of heat and carbon monoxide problems to become an immediate danger to the residents.
Service workers from Community Action, the city of Beloit, Rock County and other groups spent Tuesday at the complex helping residents and summoning every resource they could think of. They kept warm on an idle city bus and in two trailers.
Churches, organizations and individuals donated food, clothes, bedding and money to the emergency shelter, Perry said.
Efforts from the Beloit and Janesville school districts especially stood out in his mind. In Beloit, administrators put out the call Tuesday morning, and staff members, parents and students responded, he said.
"Literally every service provider, every individual, every group you can think of in the county contacted us," he said. "It is amazing what people will do during a call to action."
Service agencies will continue to work with the displaced families to help them find new apartments, Perry said.
Many of the donations, especially donated money, will go to the families as they try to get back on their feet, he said.
Other donations will stay for now with Central Christian Church and the Salvation Army of Beloit, and they will distribute the donations to other people in need.
The experience has convinced Perry more than ever of the need to form an emergency response team in case this type of situation happens again, he said.
"I am bound and determined if I get nothing else done in 2010, that a countywide emergency response team will be formed," he said.