Nearly six months ago Superstorm Sandy caused thousands of families to move into shelters, hotels or stay with family members, making the American Red Cross Move-In Assistance Program even more vital for those in need of long-term housing.
“Before connecting with the Red Cross, we had no options," said Eladio Fabian. This month Fabian moved his family into a new apartment in Coney Island, Brooklyn, with help from the Move-in-Assistance Program.
For individuals whose homes were completely destroyed, the program helps victims secure a permanent home by assisting them with security deposits, home repairs, essential furnishings and appliances, and related moving costs.
Eighteen years ago when Eladio moved to New York from Mexico, he settled his family into a two-bedroom apartment on Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island. This past fall, with his wife expecting their fourth child, he thought this same apartment would continue to be home to his expanding family.
But Sandy changed all of that. Their ground-level apartment was completely destroyed the night the hurricane made landfall. With enough time only to grab important documents, like the children’s birth certificates, the Fabians waded through waist-high water to escape, eventually making their way to his mother-in-law’s apartment, about a 30-minute drive away.
The next four months were particularly challenging. “Fifteen of us in a small, two-bedroom apartment,” said Maribel Fabian, Eladio’s wife.
Then Maribel gave birth prematurely to their son, Melvin. Adding to an already stressful situation, Melvin suffered from complications and is still in the hospital. The doctors also warned that they would not allow the family to bring him into such crowded living conditions.
With his savings account already running dry, Eladio tried desperately to secure a new apartment but to no avail. "Then someone I knew recommended that I reach out to the Red Cross,” he said.
Shortly after connecting with the Red Cross, the Fabians found a new place just blocks from their old home. The Red Cross helped the family with the security deposit, first month’s rent and a few basic items of furniture.
“Without the Red Cross, we wouldn’t be able to live together as a family,” Eladio said.
Although many challenges still lie ahead, the Fabians are encouraged that they have their own space again and comforted that a place is ready for Melvin’s homecoming.