When a large apartment building in the heart of the Mission erupted in flames one evening in late January, the results were catastrophic. The fire left one resident dead, one severely burned, several businesses displaced and more than 50 people without a home.
Several fires have affected our city in the last few months and our residents and affected businesses have experienced a tremendous loss. But just as our city comes together after major emergencies like earthquakes, we have come together to help those affected to recover and rebuild.
Immediate first response came from our brave women and men at the Fire Department, the Human Services Agency and the Department of Emergency Management. Our partners such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army provided basic necessities for those in need. Our city's small businesses, such as Tartine Bakery and the Bi-Rite Market, donated food and clothing.
And our city's residents stepped up in a big way by creating GoFundMe and HandUp campaigns in partnership with the Mission Economic Development Agency and Project Homeless Connect to raise much needed funding from our generous residents.
Today, many of those who lost their homes have found temporary shelter with family or friends. Others have turned to The City for help. And we, in turn, have enlisted the help of some our city's most generous providers of housing like the John Stewart Co., 2B Living, Parkmerced and others.
Many of our affected families have lived in their homes for years, even decades, in rent-controlled apartments, so when they are forced to relocate due to a fire or some other disaster, they are often unable to afford today's rents. This is where property owners have stepped in to provide reduced-rate housing until families can get back on their feet and return to their homes.
Affordable housing is essential in helping San Franciscans recover after natural or man-made disasters, but we need more landlords to open their doors to our families and residents affected by fires and other emergencies. To make it easier for property owners to help displaced families, Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced the Residential Rent Legislation for Good Samaritan Temporary Occupancy legislation, and I signed it, back in 2011. This legislation allows landlords to temporarily rent to families displaced from their homes due to a fire or other emergency at the rate that the family was already paying.
Establishing a robust network of good Samaritan property owners, now, means that when the next disaster hits, we can provide immediate support to affected families and help ease their hardship in their time of need.
Parkmerced is a great example of what we can accomplish together. Parkmerced has set aside units for displaced families for years giving them temporary homes where they can recover and rebuild. They've shown the way. Now I call on property owners across The City to follow suit: Please step up and lend a hand. If you are a landlord in San Francisco, call 311 or go to sfgov.org to learn more.
Ed Lee is mayor of San Francisco. He will award housing providers, small businesses and community-based organizations today at a Good Samaritan Recognition Award ceremony in the Mayor's Office.