May 4, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
A GoFundme page that was launched to help several Sunnyside residents whose apartments were damaged by a fire in March has raised nearly $11,000.
The fire broke out on March 23 and several apartments on floors 2 through 4 of the Phipps Garden Apartments complex on 39th Avenue were damaged, forcing five families to relocate.
The fundraiser, organized by Phipps resident Julie Won, aims to help cover the victims’ housing costs, legal fees and other losses that have since followed. There were no injuries stemming from the fire.
The GoFundme proved to be a neighborhood effort, with the funds coming from more than 150 individuals and organizations.
There were four donors that provided $500. These included Sunnyside Community Services, the Sunnyside and Woodside Mutual Aid, Mosaic Covenant Church and the Curran family.
The funds are being distributed evenly among the residents affected by the fire, according to Won.
“This fire was obviously deeply traumatic and disruptive for everyone who was affected. Many of these residents lost priceless possessions that no amount of money could ever bring back,” Won, who is also running for city council, said.
“Nonetheless, I am incredibly heartened at the generosity of our neighbors. Hopefully these funds help these residents get back on their feet.”
The FDNY has yet to reveal the cause of the fire but several residents blame the incident on a contractor working for Phipps. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Phipps says the blaze was started by a contractor who was hired by a tenant.
Phipps which owns and manages the complex has been criticized in recent months over the upkeep of the apartments. It was subject to a great deal of scrutiny recently, prompted by its application to have an adjacent property rezoned. The application was successful, much to the chagrin of several tenants.